Tag: Republican Primary

Lazarus Walks Out of Burgess Forum

The key issue in the campaign for the Republican nomination for Horry County Council erupted last night at the candidate forum in the Burgess Community and council chairman Mark Lazarus chose to walk out of the meeting rather than discuss it.

The issue is the treatment of public safety personnel in particular and county employees in general. According to numerous sources from rank and file county employees, Lazarus, in coordination with senior staff, treats them like automatons to do as they’re told and face retribution if they ask any questions.

Below are three emails sent to the Johnny Gardner campaign and shared with Grand Strand Daily from rank and file first responders who are completely frustrated with the way they have been treated and ignored by county council and county senior staff. Messages like those below are sent to the Gardner campaign on a daily basis by different individuals:

“I’m sure the members of HCFR will support you but they truly fear retribution if things don’t turn out right. That’s how it’s been here. In the recent past about 2/3 of the supervisors at HCFR were transferred for no apparent reason. Also our Deputy Chief was asked to resign because he had a dissenting opinion from the Public Safety Director. So, in my eyes fear of retribution is real.”

“Thank you for recognizing our need in the fire rescue and police public safety side of things. Our departments have gone on too long operating under the good ole boy budget … thank you again for fighting for us, the public safety guys/citizens of Horry County, who only want our departments to serve the county to its fullest capacity!”

“I am a FF with HCFR, and I just wanted to let you know that you are very well appreciated and backed by myself, and just about everyone I know in the Dept. Can’t wait for June 12th to get someone on the council who sees the needs of the county as a priority.”

Questioned on treatment of personnel within the Fire Rescue Department by a former fire fighter who is now disabled because of injuries suffered from falling debris while fighting a fire in the county, Lazarus told the man “You are no longer a county employee, I am not going to answer your question.”

Meet Mark Then and Now

The Mark Lazarus Campaign for Chairman of Horry County Council sent its first mailer to voters over the weekend.

I was happy to see a quote from me in a 2013 article in Grand Strand Daily appeared prominently in the mailer. The quote was complimentary of Lazarus’ first months as chairman.

I’m not sure what the reasoning behind using the quote was or who in the campaign made the decision to use it, but if it was his consultants’ idea, he needs to get new ones.

The quote, rather than discrediting what I have written recently about Lazarus, adds credibility to what I have always told politicians – ‘When I think you’re doing a good job, I will be happy to compliment you. When I think you’re doing a bad job, I won’t hesitate to criticize you.’

Over the last three years, I have been highly critical of Lazarus because I believe he has not been doing a good job as chairman.

When running for reelection in 2014, Lazarus told voters he would “oppose new taxes.” Shortly after successfully winning reelection, Lazarus led council into passing the largest single property tax increase in Horry County history. In addition, council increased road maintenance fees by 67%.

More recently, Lazarus led county council into extending the county wide hospitality tax for an indefinite period in the future despite having no specific plans as to what it would be used for.

Why? Because in Lazarus’ words, if it wasn’t extended, it would be lost.

Call me old fashioned, but I believe a politician should honor his campaign promises otherwise how are we to believe anything he says?

Such as – County council had to spend $12 million for 3,729 acres of swamp land off of International Drive because it was a great deal for the county. The purchase was discussed quietly in secret before being quickly voted on by council.

Press Conference Touts Johnny Gardner Candidacy

(Pictured above left to right – Chuck Canterbury, Rob Mullaney (podium) and Roger Odachowski)

A joint press conference Tuesday morning including Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police and a retired Horry County police officer, Roger Odachowski, President of the South Carolina Professional Fire Fighters Association of the International Association of Fire Fighters and Rob Mullaney, President Horry County Professional Fire Fighters Local 4345 of the IAFF, spoke of the reasons challenger Johnny Gardner has received the endorsement of their respective associations for Horry County Council Chairman.

Canterbury said Gardner’s willingness to sit down with FOP officials and discuss the county’s needs and explore solutions to the problems of understaffing in the police department was an important consideration for the endorsement.

“It is clear to our members that Johnny Gardner is the man to lead council,” said Canterbury. “He cares about this county and its people.”

Canterbury said current council chairman Mark Lazarus had cancelled several meetings for the same type of discussions.

“The only time Lazarus kept an appointment to meet with us was when he was seeking our endorsement,” Canterbury said.

Canterbury said HCPD is approximately 200 patrol officers below what is needed based on the population and area of Horry County.

Odachowski said Horry County Fire Rescue is approximately 230 fire fighters short based on the call volume and national averages for properly manning the county’s 41 fire stations. He said most county fire fighters suffer from fatigue due to 48 hour shifts and the call volume they respond to.

Odachowski spoke of a presentation he made to Horry County Council last winter during public input and the response he received. During the presentation, Odachowski offered solutions available from the IAFF but mispronounced Horry County several times.

Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 12 Endorses Johnny Gardner for County Council Chairman

Coastal Carolina Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 12 unanimously endorsed the candidacy of Johnny Gardner for Horry County Council Chairman during its monthly meeting Thursday night.

A donation to Gardner’s campaign by Coastal Carolina FOP Lodge 12 accompanied the endorsement.

Gardner is challenging incumbent Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus in the upcoming June 12, 2018 Republican Primary.

Membership in Lodge 12 includes active and retired law enforcement officers from Horry, Georgetown and Marion Counties.

FOP National President Chuck Canterbury, a retired officer from Horry County Police Department, said, “We are committed to support Johnny Gardner. We plan to work very diligently to help him get elected. We plan to put our shoe leather where our mouth is.”

Canterbury said many Horry County officers feel public safety is not a priority among county officials at this time. Canterbury said HCPD used to be a “go to” police department where trained, experienced officers lined up to join the department. Now it is a department where officers get training and experience under their belt, then move to another department where pay and benefits are considerably better.

“We believe Johnny Gardner is the best candidate “to help secure the county and help provide a safe environment for the citizens,” Canterbury said.

Gardner said he was very humbled to receive the endorsement from FOP Lodge 12.

“I feel very humbled and very fortunate to receive the endorsement from Coastal Carolina Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 12,” Gardner said. “First responders are the people who go to work every day to keep the rest of us safe. They deserve the loyalty, respect and appreciation of the county government they serve.”

Handicapping the Race for County Council Chairman Nomination

Since filing for office closed March 30th, my friend and cohost on “Talking Politics”, John Bonsignor, has been trying to make the case that Johnny Gardner is not a serious challenger to incumbent Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus in the June 2018 Republican Primary election.

One thing John and I have proved through the years is that we can disagree (often) without being disagreeable.

I recently wrote about Gardner receiving the endorsement of Horry County Professional Firefighter Local 4345 IAFF. John responded with a diatribe on why Lazarus has nothing to worry about from Gardner in the primary, in John’s opinion.

John and I have lived in Horry County for over 30 years each, so I want to go back through history a little to demonstrate that an incumbent officeholder is not a shoe-in candidate for re-election.

It is often difficult to defeat an incumbent officeholder, but far from an impossible task.

Sheriff Philip Thompson was an underdog when he first ran for the office in 2000 against incumbent Teddy Henry. I remember Chicken Bog socials with Thompson speaking from the back of a truck to voters throughout the county. Accompanying Thompson on these journeys were off-duty officers from the Horry County Police Department showing their support for him. Ultimately, Thompson obtained the support of a majority of county employees and that made the difference in the election.

Melanie Huggins for Horry County Clerk of Courts and Roddy Dickinson for Horry County Treasurer, both in 2004, are other interesting examples. Incumbents were retiring from both offices, but Huggins was opposed by former Clerk of Courts Billie Richardson, coming out of retirement to run again. Dickinson was opposed by Robert Rabon, later to be Horry County Republican chairman. Richardson and Rabon had more money and the support of political insiders, but Huggins and Dickinson won primarily on the strength of a majority of county employees and their friends who supported them.

When Huggins and Dickinson retired, Angie Jones for Treasurer and Renee Elvis for Clerk of Court both won election to their current offices in 2016 on the strength of major support from county employees.

Horry County Chairman Candidate Johnny Gardner Endorsed by Firefighters

Johnny Gardner, a candidate for Horry County Council Chairman in the upcoming June 12, 2018 Republican Primary, has received the endorsement of his campaign from  the Horry County Professional Firefighter Local 4345 of the International Association of Firefighters.

Robert Mullaney, President of Local 4345 IAAF told GSD, “We are happily endorsing Mr. Gardner and looking forward to helping Horry County and making fire rescue the place people want to work for again because of outstanding leadership.”

Mullaney has been critical in local media of the pay raise and shifting around of personnel proposed for firefighters and EMS personnel with next fiscal year’s county budget. The new fiscal year begins July 1, 2018.

Mullaney called the proposal a “band aid” that does not deal with the underlying problems in the department.

“I am humbled to have received endorsement from Horry County Professional Firefighters Local 4345,” said Gardner.  “Their endorsement is indicative of the change in county government being sought by working citizens. Horry County is a great place to live and work and I want to make sure it stays that way for all of our citizens.”

“With this being National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, I want to ensure not only our public safety employees but also all county government employees and the citizens they serve that the lines of communication will always remain open between them and the county chairman, if I am elected,” Gardner continued. “I promise to listen and hear what is being said rather than spend my time talking at them.”

Gardner is a native of Conway, a graduate of Coastal Carolina University and the University of South Carolina School of Law, a U.S. Army veteran having served as a Captain in the 82nd Airborne Infantry Division and the founder of Johnny Gardner Law, P.A.

In the short time since he has filed his candidacy, Gardner said he realizes there is a large disconnect between county employees and county leadership.

Hypocritical Attack Ads Target Reese Boyd

Reese Boyd is making a strong run for the open SC Senate District 34, enough that the Stephen Goldfinch campaign and its cohorts are resorting to absolute hypocrisy in these final days of the campaign.

Reese Boyd and Stephen Goldfinch are both seeking the Republican nomination for SC Senate District 34 in Tuesday’s Republican Primary voting.

If you are following politics at all in this primary season, you have seen, either in your mailbox or on Facebook, Reese Boyd being called a fiscal liberal.

These attacks are coming in mail and on broadcast media from something called the Citizens Alliance for Fiscal Responsibility, which, from everything I can determine, is run by Tom Swatzel of Swatzel Strategies LLC.

Swatzel Strategies has also received payment from the Stephen Goldfinch campaign for campaign consulting. There is an obvious direct tie between the PAC and the Goldfinch campaign.

If Citizens Alliance for Fiscal Responsibility is acting as an independent PAC, even under the Citizens United decision it must have no direct coordination with the campaign.

Why is Boyd being attacked as a fiscal liberal? Because Boyd has refused to sign Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

I support Boyd in not signing Norquist’s bogus pledge, which has never been anything more than a gimmick for elected legislators to claim they are fiscal conservatives.

But, the hypocrisy currently being practiced by the Goldfinch campaign is much worse than just mislabeling Boyd because he wouldn’t agree to forfeit his decision making power if he is elected to the senate.

Angie Jones Press Conference Answers NO Questions

(Above pic Angie Jones, left with Lois Eargle)

A press conference held Friday by Angie Jones, a candidate for Horry County Treasurer in the Tuesday June 14, 2016 Republican primary election, left unanswered questions as to why Jones resigned her position as Deputy Treasurer just five days before the primary.

Jones will begin a position in the Horry County Clerk of Courts office Monday morning. Jones mother, Nancy Jones, is currently Deputy Clerk of Courts.

Jones claimed she resigned from the Treasurer’s office because of a hostile work environment toward her since February.

I believe that reason it total political spin and has nothing to do with why Jones resigned.

According to several sources within Horry County Government, prior to her resignation Jones was the subject of an internal investigation on alleged removal of penalties from a tax notice sent to her brother.

After receiving inquiries earlier in the week from local media about documents supporting the allegations, Treasurer Roddy Dickinson reportedly looked into the allegations.

Jones resigned from her Deputy Treasurer position Thursday and the only comment Dickinson would make was to confirm her resignation.

Jones’ press conference Friday was to supposedly address Jones’ resignation. This was the perfect time for Jones to address the investigation and answer questions about it. She didn’t.

David Cox and Shanda Allen for Horry County School Board

When Horry County voters go to the polls for primary balloting next week, two candidates for Horry County School Board, David Cox and Shanda Allen, stand out in their respective races.

David Cox is currently the school board vice chairman. He has represented Horry County District 9 for two terms. Having recently moved to Market Common, Cox is a candidate for the Horry County School Board District 4 Republican nomination.

Cox has gained valuable experience during his two terms on the school board. He wants to bring that experience to the citizens of District 4.

“Four out of the five new schools we contracted for last fall will be built in District 4,” Cox said. “I believe my experience on the school board can be valuable to the parents and students of District 4 as it goes through significant change in the next 12-18 months.”

Cox is a fiscal conservative who has helped hold the line on tax rates for Horry County residents. During his eight years of service, the school board has reduced tax rates by 18 mils while maintaining the building and maintenance requirements of one of the fastest growing school districts in the state.

In addition, Horry County high school students have continued to increase their SAT and ACT scores, as well as earning tens of millions of dollars of scholarships to colleges.

“I am proud of my eight years of service on the school board and hope the citizens of District Four will vote to allow me to continue to bring my experience to board decisions for the benefit of all the students in Horry County,” Cox said.

Shanda Allen brings considerable experience to her candidacy for the Horry County School Board District 11 Republican nomination.

She was a substitute teacher in Horry County Schools for 10 years, giving her significant knowledge of the classroom needs of both teachers and students.

Issues Divide Horry County Council District 7 Republican Candidates

The contest for the Republican nomination for Horry County Council District 7 is up for a vote Tuesday May 17th.

There are significant differences between the candidates, Mike Roberts and Robert Shelley.

Politicians routinely claim to want to serve the people and/or give back to them.

Roberts is one of the people who believes the people should be included in important decisions. Shelley appears to believe he is above the people.

One of the biggest issues to have erupted in the county over the last few days clearly separates the two candidates. That issue is whether the Horry County Sheriff’s Department and Horry County Police Department should be merged.

Businessman Mike Roberts says yes. Former HCPD officer Robert Shelley says no.

“This is an issue the people should decide,” Roberts said. “It isn’t something that should be left to the decision of a few council members.”

Shelley, a former HCPD officer, said in a media interview that he opposed combining the departments because he likes having a separate police department and sheriff’s department.

But, this isn’t about what Shelley likes. It is about what is best for the citizens of Horry County.

Shelley said the people have already spoken on this issue, referring to a referendum on the question in 1998.

However, there are more than 125,000 new residents in Horry County since 1998 who haven’t spoken on the issue at all.

In addition, the HCPD is a mess with SLED conducting several criminal investigations into the department at the current time.

“Something needs to be done about the police department and that goes way beyond just hiring a new chief,” said Roberts.

Shelley said he believes politics and law enforcement don’t go together. Yet, the HCPD is all about politics.