Conway Mayoral Debate for the Public

A debate has been scheduled between the two candidates in the race for Mayor of Conway.
Incumbent Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy and challenger Ken Richardson have agreed to debate the issues facing Conway on October 25, 2023, at the Johnson Auditorium, E. Craig Wall College of Business Administration, Coastal Carolina University, 119 Chanticleer Drive West, Conway, SC.
The City of Conway Chamber of Commerce and the Edgar Dyer Institute for Leadership and Public Policy at CCU have joined hands to host the debate.
The debate will begin at 6 p.m. The capacity of the Johnson Auditorium is approximately 210 persons.
The debate is free and open to the public with reserved seats. Each campaign has received 70 tickets. If you want to attend the debate, call either campaign to request your ticket. The event will be livestreamed for those who can’t obtain a ticket.
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SC General Assembly Must Amend Impact Fee Law to Allow Local Government Freedom

Horry County Council is again wrestling with the question of how to raise impact fees to help offset the cost of providing needed infrastructure to serve the ever-increasing number of new homes being built in the county.
While county council investigates to increase impact fees, the state enabling legislation governing those fees provides the largest hurdle to overcome.
In 1999, the General Assembly passed legislation governing the imposition of impact fees by local governments with enough restrictions and obstacles to make them virtually unworkable for local government use. The development industry launched a huge lobbying effort against the law and was generally successful in making the law extremely difficult for local governments to use.
The legislation dictates how the local governments must use the money and in what time frame it must be used. It also requires commercial structures to be treated the same as homes with respect to taxing, something that makes impact fees on commercial structures an excessive burden.
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Integrity or Opportunity in the Conway Mayor’s Race

The fifth chapter of the Ken Richardson for Mayor of Conway full-page ads in a local newspaper came out last Thursday.
The ad claimed Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy said she would only serve two terms and questioned why the change of heart? The ad went on to say the people of Conway deserve an explanation and leaders should honor their commitments.
The question goes both ways. On a local podcast, Richardson admitted he said he was done with politics after his loss in the 7th Congressional District race. Why the change of heart?
The answer is simple. It’s because Richardson saw an opportunity and decided to run against Bellamy after she issued the Mayoral Proclamation declaring June as Pride Month in Conway. He said as much in the podcast.
“Nobody’s going to dodge the question because it’s all everybody talks about is the proclamation the mayor did,” Richardson said.
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Richardson Campaign Calls Mayoral Proclamations Divisive

The fourth edition of full-page ads promoting the candidacy of Ken Richardson for Conway mayor was published in local media last week. The first three ads were basically a world salad of claims without any specifics.
Last week’s ad hit a new level of inscrutability. It claimed in part, “…Yet, lately we’ve seen division seep into our city’s fabric. The current mayor’s unilateral proclamations have left us feeling fractured…”
Wondering what caused claims of division and fracturing, I did a random search of Conway City Council Agenda to find these supposed divisive horrors. There were mayoral proclamations issued for “National Garden Week”, the “50th Anniversary of the United Way”, “Donate Life Month”, “Conway 10 and Under Fast Pitch Softball State Champions”, “Conway 12 and Under Fast Pitch Softball State Champions”, and to “Sargeant Major KaJuan Butler for 30 years of service in the U. S. Army”.
The ad for the Richardson campaign mentioned “unilateral proclamations” (plural) not any specific proclamation. Again, the public is being treated to general statements with no specificity from the Richardson campaign. General statements that fall into the category of word salad.
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Autry Benton’s Challenge for Senate District 33

Just over a week ago, Autry Benton announced his withdrawal from a reelection effort for Conway City Council in order to run for the state Senate seat currently held by Luke Rankin.
The announcement surprised the public, but the reason for it was even more surprising. Benton is seeking office to actually try to make a difference and help the citizens rather than the self-seeking reasons most politicians bring to their campaigns.
Benton’s announcement said he heard from Conway citizens that they were generally happy with the condition of the city. The major complaint he heard while campaigning were “about infrastructure in general and roads in particular. Benton said the solution to road problems lies in Columbia with General Assembly appropriations.
“It’s time for the necessary improvements to Horry County infrastructure to stop being ignored in Columbia. It’s time for Horry County to get a consistently strong voice for its fair share of state budget funds for roads and infrastructure,” Benton said in his announcement.
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One More Week More Word Salad in Conway Election Campaign

For the third week in a row, the Richardson for Mayor of Conway campaign has run a full-page ad in the local newspaper which is long on newsprint but says nothing of substance.
This has been a trend around the campaign since the hyperbolic article in a local blog announcing Richardson’s run. That particular article spoke of a “groundbreaking moment” in the political history of Conway and a “compelling message” for all residents. We are still waiting to hear the message.
Last week’s ad spoke of Richardson’s “monumental task” of “overseeing a budget exceeding 900 million dollars” and “ensuring the well-being of over 7,000 employees” when he was Chairman of the Horry County Board of Education. The numbers are used to impress.
Richardson was a good chairman for Horry County Schools. His signature achievement during that tenure was working with district staff and other board members through the mess Covid created for enclosed public spaces. Of course, the contributions of staff and other board members are never mentioned.
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Word Salad Instead of Specific Issues

Voters in Conway were ‘treated’ last week to another full page ad, in a local media outlet, of word salad without specifics by the Committee to Elect Ken Richardson.
The introductory sentence says it all, “In the HEART OF CONWAY where tradition meets progress, one name stands out KEN RICHARDSON.
One would think the first name to stand out, in the minds of those who proclaim to know exactly what Conway is and is not, would be General Robert Conway in whose honor the town is named. Gen. Conway was a Revolutionary War soldier, six term member of the South Carolina General Assembly, brigadier of the Sixth South Carolina Brigade and large land owner. Conway succeeded Peter Horry, for whom the county is named, as brigadier.
The names of more recent individuals who stand out in the history and development of Conway are Buddy Sasser, Greg Martin, Jean Timbes, Chip Brown, Leslie McGiver, Alys Lawson, Sam Hendrick, Vivian Chestnut and General James Vaught. And yes Mr. Richardson, Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy is on that list too.
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Autry Benton Means What He Says

During his campaign to fill the unexpired term of former Conway City Council member Alex Hyman, Autry Benton used the campaign slogan “Conway First.”
Benton was successful in his special election bid and was sworn into office on July 17, 2023. Benton proved to be one of the very few politicians who keeps his campaign promises.
Benton announced last month that he wanted to cancel the contract between his company, Benton Concrete and Utilities LLC, and the City of Conway. Benton’s concrete company was contracted by the city, to perform sidewalk maintenance and repair prior to Benton’s run for office,
According to the provisions of the state ethics law pertaining to elected officials, it would have been entirely legal for Benton to continue the contract with the city. All he would have had to do as a council member was recuse himself from any council discussion about the contract or about sidewalk maintenance.
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What are the Issues in the Conway City Council Election?

Current political thought is the way to win campaigns is to give the voters something to fear and tell them who is to blame.
In a general way with few specifics, this appears to be exactly the strategy of the Ken Richardson for Mayor of Conway campaign is attempting.
An ad last week in local media told voters, “If you are a resident of Conway, the most important election of our LIFETIME will be on November 7, 2023.”
My first reaction was “WHY?” No specifics as to why the election is “the most important.” As cities in Horry County go, Conway is in better shape than the rest. The neighborhoods are safe, the business community is strong and the city staff has high morale.
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DiSabato Asks for Another Deferral on Postal Way Rezonings

Tuesday night was supposed to be the night that Horry County Council would vote up or down on second reading of two rezonings, Chatham Crossing and Waters Tract, on Postal Way in the Carolina Forest area.
It didn’t happen. Instead, council member Dennis DiSabato moved for a second three-month deferral for the two rezonings, which were originally supposed to be voted upon at the May 16, 2023 regular meeting of council.
The citizens of Carolina Forest have never been in favor of these two rezonings. They expressed multiple concerns about the developments that would result during two community input events during Carolina Forest Civic Association meetings.
The minutes of the May 16th meeting provide interesting reading. During discussion before the motion to defer, DiSabato stated, “He and the developer had heard everyone’s concerns at the public input meeting they had in Carolina Forest a couple days prior. The developer had asked for a deferment, not for 90 days, but for a period not to exceed 90 days. They wanted an opportunity to go back to their client to see if there was anything that they could do to expand on the infrastructure to try and make this project more palatable to the community. They either would figure out very quickly that they could, or they could not. In either event, it would come back as something the community supported, and if not, it would come back quicker than 90 days and would be voted up or down based on what that outcome was.”
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