By Paul Gable
Voters will go to the polls Tuesday to decide runoff elections to finalize who will represent them on municipal councils in Conway, Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach.
The Conway runoff is between newcomer Justin Jordan and on again, off again former council member Randy Alford.
Jordan became interested in public service after founding Conway Cares, a group that helped citizens during the flooding from Hurricane Florence. He said the experience helped open his eyes to greater service to the citizens of his native city. He believes it’s time to bring some new thinking to council to preserve the Conway he grew up in for future generations and to be open minded and a voice of reason for all citizens in the city. It is believed Jordan would work well with newly elected council member Alex Hyman to bring a new dynamic to council.
Alford previously served on council but was defeated for reelection just two years ago.
The Myrtle Beach runoff for the final city council seat is between incumbent Mary Jeffcoat and newcomer John Krajc. This race brings an interesting dynamic in that Mayor Brenda Bethune has promoted the Krajc candidacy against incumbent Jeffcoat who has basically supported all of the mayor’s initiatives.
The government directed central planning of the city will apparently continue to the detriment of the businesses and citizens south of the former pavilion site regardless of which candidate wins the runoff.
In Surfside Beach no candidate won election in the first round of voting. Bob Hellyer and Julie Samples finished one-two in the mayoral race while incumbent council member David Pellegrino was ousted. Paul Holder, Michael Drake, Cindy Keating and Kathryn Martin finished in that order for council seats. The top three vote getters in the runoff among those four will win council seats.
Surfside Beach politics is always interesting. In this election, no incumbent whose term was up chose to run for reelection. Pellegrino’s council term ends in two years. Samples previously served on council, choosing not to run for reelection when her term ended in 2017.
Last spring, Surfside Beach council made headlines for voting to fire six out of the seven members of the town’s planning commission over differences about development and regulations in the town’s entertainment district. Hellyer was the lone planning commission member not affected by the council action.
The first round of this election was about who will best represent all the citizens in the town. Hellyer made his campaign slogan “Residents First” and Samples has spoken about the need to better communicate with the citizens.
Jenn Cribb, a candidate who lost in the first round of voting for a council seat, recently used Facebook to take a shot at those using the ‘Residents First” slogan. Her post claimed the town was in danger of being taken over by ‘outsiders’ who are using the “Residents First” slogan to mislead voters. Cribb claimed their election in the runoff “could very quickly make Surfside Beach vulnerable to annexation by a larger municipality…”
The post demonstrates both the passion and the false propaganda that surrounds this election as well as ignorance about how annexation works. Myrtle Beach is the only larger municipality that could even begin to think of annexing Surfside Beach and it has too many of its own problems for such a move. Additionally, the genesis for any annexation would have to come from Surfside Beach voters who would have to approve such annexation by referendum. It’s not going to happen, but it is a neat attempt to try and muddy up the real issues in this campaign.
The voting is open to all registered voters within the respective municipal boundaries regardless of whether they voted in the first round of voting November 5th. Get out and vote.