By Paul Gable
The contest for the Republican nomination for Horry County Council District 7 is up for a vote Tuesday May 17th.
There are significant differences between the candidates, Mike Roberts and Robert Shelley.
Politicians routinely claim to want to serve the people and/or give back to them.
Roberts is one of the people who believes the people should be included in important decisions. Shelley appears to believe he is above the people.
One of the biggest issues to have erupted in the county over the last few days clearly separates the two candidates. That issue is whether the Horry County Sheriff’s Department and Horry County Police Department should be merged.
Businessman Mike Roberts says yes. Former HCPD officer Robert Shelley says no.
“This is an issue the people should decide,” Roberts said. “It isn’t something that should be left to the decision of a few council members.”
Shelley, a former HCPD officer, said in a media interview that he opposed combining the departments because he likes having a separate police department and sheriff’s department.
But, this isn’t about what Shelley likes. It is about what is best for the citizens of Horry County.
Shelley said the people have already spoken on this issue, referring to a referendum on the question in 1998.
However, there are more than 125,000 new residents in Horry County since 1998 who haven’t spoken on the issue at all.
In addition, the HCPD is a mess with SLED conducting several criminal investigations into the department at the current time.
“Something needs to be done about the police department and that goes way beyond just hiring a new chief,” said Roberts.
Shelley said he believes politics and law enforcement don’t go together. Yet, the HCPD is all about politics.
Over the last several years, the Horry County chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, of which many HCPD officers are members, has been very active lobbying council for raises for police officers.
In my opinion, we don’t need a former police officer sitting on council making decisions about raising taxes to pay the police more money, especially when there are criminal investigations into the department and who knows what other skeletons in the closet.
Roberts is not tied to any special interests in the county. He will vote for what he believes is best for the majority of citizens, not the few with loud voices.