By Paul Gable
(The title of the cartoon accompanying this article is “Miss Lead”)
At a candidate forum hosted by the Myrtle Beach NAACP last week, Mayor Brenda Bethune made a statement that inferred opponent Gene Ho was not a resident of the city.
Bethune brought several pieces of paper to the lectern then said, “Unless something has changed in Horry County, where you pay your 4 percent primary residence property tax is where your primary residence is. (Looking at Ho) And last time I checked your primary residence is in Prestwick.”
Unfortunately for Bethune, she was working from old information. A further check would have revealed that for the current year (2021), Ho is back at his condominium in Myrtle Beach as his primary residence and the home he owns in Prestwick is back at a 6 percent tax rate and is currently being rented.
It is unclear whether Bethune’s statement was the result of incompetent opposition research, incompetent campaign messaging or both.
But why ruin a good sound bite with facts?
Another interesting statement from Bethune during the forum was, “It’s about having empathy and respect for others. That’s how we get equity, diversity and inclusion. And it’s not just about race, it’s about sexual preferences, it’s about if a child decides they want to be a male of a female, it’s about loving everyone.”
I suppose Bethune believed that statement painted her as an empathetic, loving mayor who respects her constituents.
However, the statement runs counter to her actions in office.
Where was Bethune’s empathy and respect when she led the passage of an overlay zone on Ocean Boulevard which restricted mainly Jewish owned businesses from selling products that are readily sold throughout the rest of the city?
In fact, there has been no empathy or respect shown to those businesses and others in the traditional downtown business district during Bethune’s current four-year term. That’s why there are so many empty, commercial buildings in that area.
Increasing crime rates were the number one issue for Bethune’s four opponents, Ho, William McClure, Tammy Durant and C. D. Rozsa, during a recent mayoral forum at Market Common, which Bethune chose not to attend.
Evidently Bethune prefers to focus on Ho’s residency and empathy. Empathy for whom?
Three incumbent council members, Jackie Hatley, Gregg Smith and Mike Lowder are being challenged by Alex Fogel and John Newman.
Hatley voted with Bethune and the majority on the Ocean Boulevard overlay.
Newman is coming on strong in these last weeks with a message of a “new vision” and “new commitment” for Myrtle Beach.
If Myrtle Beach is to regain its former image as a family friendly tourist destination rather than the crime ridden one It currently has, I would submit it’s time for new faces on city council.
To paraphrase a quote often inaccurately attributed to Albert Einstein, “Everyone knows that voting for the same politicians and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.”