By Paul Gable
Horry County Rising, the group committed to strengthening local standards to help mitigate flooding, yesterday released its rankings of local county council members seeking reelection in contested primaries.
The mission of Horry County Rising is to establish stronger wetland protections, increase investments for stormwater infrastructure and fund flood mitigation projects to protect our communities from flooding.
The group based its rankings of the incumbents on four criteria:
- Level of engagement
- Level of cooperation
- Level of action
- Level of preparedness
Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner and Horry County District One council member Harold Worley received top grades from Horry County Rising.
Horry County District Eight council member Orton Bellamy placed third while Horry County Council member for District Two Bill Howard and current Horry County Council member for District Eight and candidate for chairman Johnny Vaught were tied for the lowest ranking.
Horry County Rising thanked its members for their engagement with elected county officials in the past several years, which resulted in Horry County Council passing the strongest flood protection standards in the state in December 2021.
However, there is more work to be done at both the state and local levels to further mitigate the potential catastrophic damages caused by flooding as the county experienced in 2016 and 2018.
As we saw in those years, many homes and commercial structures were built in past decades in areas that are prone to flooding, thanks to the influence of the special interest cabal over local elected officials.
The highest rated candidates, Gardner and Worley, have both been targeted for defeat by candidates heavily funded by cabal interests
and it appears there is no limit to how far the cabal will go to rid the council of members who listen to the citizens.
Those candidates with the lowest rating, Howard and Vaught along with Mark Lazarus in the chairman race, are heavily funded by cabal interests. Jenna Dukes, who is opposing Worley, has never held elected office but is also heavily funded by cabal interests who want to extend their influence over county council decisions.
There is no secret here. The cabal is attempting to increase its influence over county council with an eye toward its profits and no regard for what happens after.
The same is true in the two contested races for S. C. House seats 61 and 106. There are no rankings available for those seats because they are both open seats with candidates who have not been in office since Horry County Rising began ranking elected officials.
However, according to local politicos and other involved members of the public, Carla Schuessler in the House District 61 race and Val Guest in the House District 106 race are the cabal favorites.
Schuessler is opposed for the House District 61 seat by local Conway businessman John Cassidy who has experienced first hand the devastating effects of flooding on his business in Conway.
The House District 106 race has another interesting twist in it. Among three candidates opposing Guest is former county council member Howard Barnard who originated the idea for the Southeastern Lifeline, the SELL road in local parlance, for better access to the southern end of the county.
While the SELL road presents challenges to environmental concerns in southern Horry County, it is a better option for local residents to be studied than the cabal preferred Interstate 73, which is nothing more than a boondoggle for the cabal.
Primary elections are less than two weeks away (June 14th). Many of the local races, those which impact local residents the most, pit cabal candidates against candidates for the people.
The future direction of Horry County is up to the voters.