By Paul Gable
Horry County incumbent District 2 council member Bill Howard is another spinning creative reworking of history to influence voters in next week’s Republican Primary.
Howard tries to present himself as a council member who works for the people, but reading his campaign disclosure reports it is apparent that Howard is funded by the same developer and tourism cabal interests who also fund Mark Lazarus, Jenna Dukes, Johnny Vaught and Carla Schuessler to name a few.
In a recent mailer, Howard listed among his accomplishments, “Working hard to keep the budget balanced and keeping property taxes low. No increase.”
Howard is on record voting for the largest tax increases in Horry County history – 7.2 mils plus stormwater fee and road maintenance fee increases in 2015 and 7.5 mils and another stormwater fee increase in 2021. This is hardly the work of a council member bragging about “no increase.”
Howard listed another accomplishment as being “proactive in addressing flooding problems.” However, it its rating of the voting records of county council members on flood mitigation legislation , Horry County Rising rated Howard and Vaught tied for the bottom position.
Howard also noted the purchase of 3,700 acres of swampland in Carolina Forest that the county purchased for approximately $12 million. Howard’s mailer claimed the purchase saved Horry County $12 million in Ride III costs, however, according to other council members the purchased acreage has yet to gain approval as a wetland mitigation bank.
Howard lists airport passenger growth as one of his accomplishments when the council has little to do with increasing flights or passengers into Myrtle Beach International.
Under promises made and kept, Howard lists improvement in public safety staffing, pay and equipment. It is true the council has made significant improvements to public safety over the last four years, but not because of Howard.
Chairman Johnny Gardner pledged “Public Safety, Priority One, Day One” in his 2018 campaign. It was through Gardner’s leadership that the improvements were made to public safety. Gardner was endorsed by both the local firefighters and police associations in 2018 and has again been endorsed by both in 2022. At best, Howard did nothing more than vote for the improvements, but he never was a voice heard proposing them.
As for infrastructure, Howard lists over $100 million in new local road funding. I don’t know where he comes up with that. Howard was a steady vote to use local dollars to fund Interstate 73, four times in the last four years. The reason local roads have more funding is a majority of council shut down local funding for I-73. Howard was on the wrong side of this one.
Howard is another of the special interest cabal preferred candidates who are creating their own political reality in this campaign season.
Dean Richardson, a retired businessman, is opposing Howard. He brings a unique perspective to his candidacy for District 2.
Now living in District 2, Richardson comes from a Conway based family and owned businesses in Loris during his career. He understands the issues in both the eastern and western areas of the county and the different needs those areas bring to the council
Gatherings of local politicos consider Howard to be the worst member to represent District 2 and long for the days of Brent Schulz, who they consider to be the best ever to represent the district.
In covering council for many years, I can’t remember any issue important to District 2 citizens that Howard successfully brought to passage.
Richardson comes from a family with a public service history. His maternal grandfather was mayor of Conway and his uncle was the first chairman of county council.
Richardson knows it is important to form relationships with other council members to get things done instead of attempting to serve special interests as Howard has done.
If you’re one of the voters who long for a strong voice for District 2 on county council, Dean Richardson should be your choice.