By Paul Gable
Team Horry, the self-styled moniker by which a few of the Horry County Council members up for reelection this year like refer to themselves, appears in complete disarray a little over one week before primary voting.
It started as a plan for council members to appear as a group on opening day to file candidate papers together followed by a press conference of mutual support and praise for the ‘great’ job they are doing.
That plan never quite came together and it started a trend of events never quite coming off as planned throughout this primary season.
A seemingly insurmountable obstacle for team togetherness occurred several days ago when Horry County Council Vice Chairman Bill Howard went toe-to-toe with Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune over plans the city has for food trucks during the summer tourist season.
Howard, a local restaurateur in real life, lectured the mayor that he believes the food trucks will negatively impact business at his restaurants.
The result of the confrontation was the following post by Bethune on Facebook:
“I am human and far from perfect. I try to communicate with others in a way that makes them feel respected and safe. Today I was truly disheartened by the disrespectful tone and threat that was issued to me by the vice chair of our County Council. He represents EVERYONE in this County and as an elected official should practice civil communication in all matters. May I never think so highly of myself that I try to make others feel low. Here’s an idea: we all need to show mutual respect to each other in order to work together for the greater good of those we serve.”
Howard represents Horry County Council District 2, which includes the City of Myrtle Beach north end beginning at 38th Avenue North. This area happens to include the core of voters who catapulted Bethune to election as mayor last November.
It is also the home district of county council chairman Mark Lazarus.
As Shakespeare would say – “Therein lies the rub.”
Both Howard and Lazarus are charter members of Team Horry. Both find themselves in tight primary battles as voting nears.
Bethune endorsed Lazarus for reelection a few weeks ago despite the fact that Lazarus supported longtime friend and then incumbent mayor John Rhodes against Bethune last fall.
Several sources have told Grand Strand Daily that members of the Bethune camp reached out to Howard opponent Dean Pappas with offers of support after the incident over food trucks.
It is safe to say support for Bethune is much stronger among voters in the Myrtle Beach precincts included in District 2 than it is for Howard or Lazarus.
The conundrum for Lazarus is does he walk away from fellow Team Horry member and council vice chairman Howard in the last week before voting in order to protect his own support from Bethune?
If so, and the betting here is that he does, how much of the ‘Team Horry vote us all back in because we are doing such a great job for the county’ rhetoric was ever true?
Indeed, is any of the rhetoric emanating from the Lazarus campaign true?
One hint – third reading of the Horry County budget for next fiscal year has been left off of the June 5, 2018 council agenda. This means third reading will take place after the primary voting. Why?