By Paul Gable
Filing opened last Friday for candidates in the upcoming June 12, 2018 Republican and Democrat party primary elections. Filing for candidates will close at noon Friday March 30, 2018.
The biggest name filing for re-election on the first day was Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus.
We will now see three months of campaigning, led by incumbents to convince the voters to continue their time in office.
But, have the incumbents really served the needs of the people or worked for other agendas?
Unfortunately “fake” is the political environment of today. Most politicians occupy a fake reality where they say one thing when campaigning, do another when in office and cry “fake news” and attempt to change the narrative when their duplicity is pointed out. It often works because voters do not have the time or desire to acquaint themselves with the issues and, instead, rely on sound bites for their information.
The few who try to stick to the facts and have a reasonable discussion of the issues are too often defeated because of their honesty.
Four years ago, Lazarus committed to the voters to “Oppose new taxes” on his Lazarusforchair.com website under issues.
This commitment quickly went by the wayside. After being re-elected, Lazarus became the biggest proponent on council for raising taxes with the largest tax increase in Horry County history resulting. Property taxes were raised 7.2 mills and the annual vehicle fee paid to the county was raised from $30 to $50 per vehicle.
To sell the tax increase it was billed as an increase for public safety. Voters bought into this narrative during budget discussions only to be fooled after the tax increase was approved. As councilman Harold Worley said at the time, “Not one penny of the tax increase will go toward putting one extra officer on the street. Response times will not go down nor will community policing increase because of the tax increase.”
Worley was correct in his assessment. What most voters didn’t know was the tax increase was the result of a huge outcry by county employees after County Administrator Chris Eldridge received a large pay increase from council between first and second reading of the budget. A large portion of the “public safety” tax increase went to a pay increase for all county employees, not to improve public safety.
Lazarus led the effort to approve the tax increase with Worley working to oppose it. Ultimately, the budget, with the tax increase included, passed 6-5.
One other note, Lazarus announced his candidacy for re-election on Facebook with #TeamHorry listed at the end.
While TeamHorry includes Lazarus and Eldridge, it opposes Horry County Treasurer Angie Jones. Lazarus and Eldridge were instrumental in opposing the small addition to the Treasurer’s Office budget, which Jones requested after she took office. The budget was completed before Jones took office and she was not included in the decision making process.
The entire matter could have been resolved with just a little discussion between TeamHorry and Jones, but that did not happen. As a result, Jones filed suit against Horry County Government and Eldridge and TeamHorry have attempted to besmirch Jones’ reputation and competence in their replies to the suit.
This could be an important election year for county residents. They should familiarize themselves with all the issues facing the county and where those seeking election stand on those issues. It’s the pocketbooks of the citizens that pay for the expenses run up by governments.