By Paul Gable
Less than three weeks remain before filing officially opens for the upcoming Myrtle Beach city elections.
Already a number of people have emerged to announce their intention to run against the four incumbents up for reelection. While I’m sure there will be a large field of challengers, we won’t know exactly who is in the race until filing closes.
In the meantime, there are some interesting dynamics developing for this year’s election.
In the past few months, council has drawn criticism for the threatened use of eminent domain to take control of several properties in the Superblock after secretly purchasing approximately 10 other properties in that area.
After being exposed, the city announced a plan to redevelop the area with a new, $10 million building to, reportedly, house Chapin Memorial Library and a new Children’s Museum.
There are questions whether eminent domain taking of a property can be used for such a purpose and whether $10 million of taxpayer money is best spent on this project when public safety needs, among others, are critical at this time.
Shootings on Ocean Boulevard and in other parts of the city highlight the amount of violence that has infringed on Myrtle Beach streets. After the Father’s Day weekend incident during which eight people were wounded on Ocean Boulevard, the city placed barricades on one section of Ocean Boulevard, ostensibly for crowd control, but in front of retail stores and restaurants which occupy an area the city would also like to see be redeveloped.
The businesses in the area of the barricades reported drops in sales of 30-60 percent from previous years numbers.
More recently, several incidents of tourists apparently affected by bacteria in ocean water have again hit the news and social media including one case of necrotizing fasciitis reported by a North Carolina tourist.
The initial response by the city was to deny the problem came from the ocean water blaming the problem on a small cut received from hotel balcony furniture. One thing is certain, according to the family of the tourist involved, the person came to Myrtle Beach with no problem and left with the rapidly moving, flesh killing infection.
Wouldn’t a better response be to check the bacteria levels in the area the tourist reported swimming in before denying the problem?
The predicted hordes of Chinese golfers and Chinese money to invest in a theme park, which were going to revitalize tourism in Myrtle Beach, appear to have disappeared with the recent revelations about Founders Group International investments and the Chinese nationals associated with it.
There is significant unrest among voters at the direction (or misdirection) the city has chosen to take with the above mentioned sample of issues.
How this unrest is addressed and who provides the best solutions could well decide who represents the citizens on the next city council.