By Paul Gable
Local activist and former county council chairman candidate Katrina Morrison announced yesterday that she is endorsing incumbent county council Chairman Johnny Gardner in the June 28th Republican Primary runoff election.
“There is no question Johnny Gardner is a much better choice for county council chairman than Mark Lazarus,” Morrison said. “I intend to do everything I can to see Gardner is reelected.”
One of the four candidates who initially filed in the county council chairman primary, Morrison has been a vocal critic of the virtually unrestrained development, especially in or near wetlands, that has gone on in the county in recent years.
Morrison received over 6,000 votes in the first round of the primary virtually all of which would have gone to Gardner had Morrison not been in the race, leaving Gardner and Lazarus in a virtual tie in the first round of voting.
Lazarus outspent Gardner nearly 10 to 1 in the first round of the primary with virtually all of his campaign contributions coming from the development and tourism cabal. The Lazarus campaign was also the beneficiary of four mailers paid for by the S. C. Association of Realtors PAC, which added approximately $80,000 more to the elect Lazarus effort.
The cabal’s goal is to elect candidates who will remove all restrictions on development and who will vote to use county tax dollars to fund Interstate 73 construction.
Morrison said she will do everything she can to get her supporters out to vote for Gardner in the primary runoff.
“No one has suggested development should stop,” said Morrison. “What is being demanded is that we stop building on wetlands and we start telling the truth. People like Mark Lazarus will stand up for these developers and disregard the rights of the people every time.”
There is no question the local 2022 primary elections have been a contest between candidates supported by the development and tourism cabal and candidates for the interests of the people of Horry County.
Gardner and Horry County District 1 council member Harold Worley were specifically targeted by the cabal for defeat.
In the first round of the primaries, the cabal was successful in defeating Worley and in holding off a challenge to another cabal favorite, Bill Howard, the incumbent council member for District 2.
The cabal’s sights are now firmly focused on defeating Gardner and in electing cabal favored candidate Mike Masciarelli in County Council District 8.
Brandon Skipper is opposing Masciarelli in the June 28th runoff election. Skipper has already been endorsed by David Ellis and Shannon Grady who were eliminated from the District 8 race in the first round of the primary. Ellis and Grady both advocated more controlled development with needed infrastructure part of the overall plan.
Skipper said he will listen to the people and do what is best for the citizens of Horry County if he is elected.
One other primary runoff with cabal vs. citizens overtones is for S. C. House District 106 where cabal favorite Val Guest is opposed by Brian Sweeny. The Guest campaign was also supported by mailers paid for by the S. C. Association of Realtors PAC.
The runoff for Horry County School Board Chairman will also be on the ballot with David Cox opposing Helen Smith. Both Cox and Smith are current members of the school board running to replace current chairman Ken Richardson.
Early voting in the primary runoffs begins Wednesday June 22nd at four locations around the county – the county Voters Registration and Election Office at 1515 Fourth Ave., Conway; North Strand Recreation Complex at 120 Hwy 57 S, Little River; South Strand Recreation Complex at 9650 Scipio Lane off Holmestown Rd. west of US 17, Myrtle Beach and the Carolina Forest Library at 2250 Carolina Forest Boulevard, Myrtle Beach.
Early voting will be June 22 – 24 at the above locations from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.