Tag: Conway City Council

Autry Benton Means What He Says

During his campaign to fill the unexpired term of former Conway City Council member Alex Hyman, Autry Benton used the campaign slogan “Conway First.”
Benton was successful in his special election bid and was sworn into office on July 17, 2023. Benton proved to be one of the very few politicians who keeps his campaign promises.
Benton announced last month that he wanted to cancel the contract between his company, Benton Concrete and Utilities LLC, and the City of Conway. Benton’s concrete company was contracted by the city, to perform sidewalk maintenance and repair prior to Benton’s run for office,
According to the provisions of the state ethics law pertaining to elected officials, it would have been entirely legal for Benton to continue the contract with the city. All he would have had to do as a council member was recuse himself from any council discussion about the contract or about sidewalk maintenance.
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Benton Sworn In for Conway City Council Seat

Autry Benton was sworn in as the newest member of Conway City Council before the start of the council’s regular meeting Monday night.
The oath of office was delivered by Judge Alex Hyman. Benton’s wife, Amanda Benton, held the Bible for the ceremony.
Benton won a special election to replace Hyman after Hyman resigned from his council office in order to accept a judgeship. Benton will finish out the remainder of Hyman’s term, which ends December 31, 2023. Benton has already announced he will be a candidate for reelection in the upcoming November 7, 2023 non-partisan general election for Conway City Council.
A short reception was held immediately after the ceremony for Family and friends to greet and congratulate Benton.

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Benton Defeats Brown in Conway Special Election Runoff

Above: Autry Benton with wife Amanda
Autry Benton defeated Kendall Brown in yesterday’s special runoff election to fill the seat vacated when former city council member Alex Hyman resigned to accept a judgeship. Benton garnered 760 votes in the runoff to Brown’s 726.
Brown led the first leg of voting with 428 votes to Benton’s 401. Three other candidates in the special election first round were eliminated.
The runoff drew approximately 200 more voters than the first round of voting June 13, 2023, when there were five candidates in the race. Election commission members commented that both rounds of voting went very smoothly with no problems experienced.
Benton’s margin of 34 votes was slim but in excess of the one percent difference between candidates which would have required a recount.

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Autry Benton Kicks Off Campaign for Conway City Council

(Autry Benton, center, flanked by wife, Amanda and Leslie McIver)

Autry Benton kicked off his campaign for Conway City Council with an event at 104 Laurel St. in downtown Conway last night.
Benton is running in the special election to finish out the term of Alex Hyman who resigned his council seat March 20, 2023 in order to accept a position as a circuit judge. A special election will be held June 13, 2023 to fill the vacant seat.
Benton had a good turnout of voters to his inaugural event and support from some elected officials including Horry County Treasurer Angie Jones, Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner and Horry County Council member and former Conway City Council member Tom Anderson. Also on hand were former Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson, former Conway City Council member Leslie McIver and former Horry County Council member Orton Bellamy.
Benton spoke of how this will be his second attempt running for a Conway City Council seat. He just missed out in the general election of 2021, but the experience of running two years ago increased his desire to serve the citizens of Conway.
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City of Conway’s Political Sign Debacle

The City of Conway administration department is in the midst of a debacle of its own creation because of the various avenues it has pursued in enforcing its city ordinance with respect to the improper placement of political signs.
It began approximately one year ago when the city decided to take a stronger stand against political signs being placed in the public rights of way in the city and modifications were made to the City of Conway Unified Development Ordinance.
When city election season came around shortly thereafter, candidate signs that were in the rights of way were collected by city employees. However, even though the new ordinance allowed the city to issue misdemeanor summonses for this offense, none were issued to any of the candidates for city council office.
When the local and state primary season began last spring, there was a change of attitude toward the steps the city would take against improper placement of signs.
The situation could not have been handled any worse by city administrators if they intentionally tried to make a debacle of this new enforcement.
During the spring primary season, city workers collected improperly placed signs and the city issued summonses to approximately 18 candidates for office with a trial date in municipal court and threat of “a fine of up to $1,100 or 30 days in jail” printed on each summons for the misdemeanor offense.
State law prohibits municipal judges from hearing criminal cases for offenses with fines of over $500, but that didn’t stop city officials from issuing the summonses.

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Conway’s War Against Political Signs Spirals out of Control

Government officials in Conway have increased their war on political signs during this primary campaign season to a point that it has spiraled out of control.
Grand Strand Daily has learned that summonses with potential $1,000 fines, for alleged illegally placed campaign signs, have been issued to at least several more candidates in current primary races.
Most interesting is the June 13, 2021 date on the summonses for these cases to be heard in Conway City Court. That date is one day before primary election voting will take place at the polls.
Nothing in Horry County politics happens in a vacuum. One must wonder if certain Conway city government officials are attempting to influence the outcome of some of the races in the June 14th primaries?
Two weeks ago, GSD ran a story on this issue. At that time, blame for a summons and fine issued to one candidate was put at the feet of Conway City Administrator Adam Emrick due to prior statements he had made during a meeting of Conway City Council.
In the interim, several city council members have stated that candidates would be allowed to pick up their confiscated signs and no fines would be collected. However, with the escalation in the issuance of summonses, that does not now appear to be the case and city council members are now complicit for not doing anything to stop the problem.
Who is setting policy here, Conway City Council or Emrick?

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Adam Emrick Sign Czar

An apparently out of control city administrator in Conway may be starting a war over political signs that he cannot win.
According to a story in the Horry Independent last week, Conway city employees collected “more than 400 political signs” that were allegedly placed in locations they are not allowed.
Emrick reportedly told Conway City Council members last week he is tired of the great expense to the city of picking up political signs placed in the wrong place. What Emrick is apparently talking about here is signs placed in public rights of way.
The alleged illegally placed signs have been removed and placed in a city warehouse rather than being destroyed, according to the story.
However, Emrick told city council members he is ready to impose fines of up to $1,100 per sign, supposedly allowed by city ordinance, when someone comes to pick up the signs from the warehouse, according to the story.
Emrick also has a plan to bill the candidates whose signs have been picked up, according to the story.
As a point of reference, Horry County Government employees also pick up political signs that are placed in public rights of way. Those signs are disposed of in a county dumpster and candidates are free to remove their signs from the dumpster if they choose.
What Emrick proposed to city council is government overreach at an extreme level. One could call it a violation of the 14th Amendment protections of the U.S. Constitution with respect to due process.

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Conway Voters to Elect Three for City Council

Conway voters will go to the polls November 2nd to elect three members of city council from seven candidates running for office.
Incumbent council members William Goldfinch and Shane Hubbard are running for reelection. Incumbent Jean Timbes is not seeking reelection leaving one open seat to be contested.
Candidates Beth Helms, Julie Hardwick, Autry Benton, Amanda Butler and Danny R. Hardee round out the field.
In general, residents in Conway seem satisfied with the way city issues have been managed for the past six years or so. Growth is happening but not at the frenetic pace seen in other parts of the county. Crime is always an issue but not nearly as severe as in Myrtle Beach, for example.
Conway has had issues with flooding, but city council has taken a proactive approach to mitigating where possible. Areas of the city will continue to flood when heavy rain events occur, both in the local area as well as southeastern North Carolina because nature cannot be controlled. However, council continues to work on projects to minimize its effects on residents and businesses as much as possible.
A proposal to build a southern bypass road connecting highway 701 with highway 544 just past the Conway Medical Center will help with congestion now experienced on 501 through Conway as well as providing another route for emergency vehicles to the medical center.
All of this means that Goldfinch and Hubbard should be able to look forward to a relatively smooth road to reelection. But no one can actually predict what voters will do when they enter the voting booth.
Residents I have spoken to seem to prefer replacing Timbes with another woman candidate. Conway has a history of electing women to city council and mayor. It is generally felt women bring a unique perspective to the table that can add to debate on the issues.

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