By Paul Gable
It was with great sadness that I watched Councilman Marion Foxworth participate in his final Horry County Council meeting Tuesday night.
With all due respect to other present and former council members, no one brought to the council dais the level of knowledge about Horry County history and the way government works as Foxworth has.
Foxworth is a master politician. Staying true to his Democratic Party roots, during a time when Horry County was moving ever more to the Republican column, he was targeted for defeat in every election campaign he ran by a succession of Horry County Republican Party chairmen.
It made no difference. Foxworth was first elected to county council in a special election in 2002 and successively re-elected in 2004, 2008 and 2012.
Another tactic was used by certain city officials, in his hometown of Myrtle Beach, to try and defeat a re-election bid. They tried to frame Foxworth with a completely false charge of solicitation. However, the city was forced to drop all charges for a total lack of evidence when it was exposed that police officers involved in the frameup attempted to manufacture evidence against him and gave false evidence in sworn statements against him.
During his over 13 years of service on council, Foxworth proved himself to be more fiscally conservative than many of his Republican colleagues. I believe the only tax increase he voted for during his entire council service was the six-tenths of one mil for funding Coast RTA. But, only after the increase was approved by voters in an advisory referendum.
When it came to massive 6 mil fire fund in FY 2015 and 7.2 mil general fund in FY 2016 tax increases, Foxworth was firmly in the NO column. Not so for the Republicans who voted to approve those tax increases.
Foxworth was always attentive to his District Three constituents. District Three encompasses the south end of Myrtle Beach out to a portion of Carolina Forest. The rec center, library, solid waste convenience center and fire station in Carolina Forest all have his stamp on them.
He was an early and steadfast supporter of International Drive, including trying to get funding for the road well before it was included in the Ride II list of projects.
But, it was his battle to change the Myrtle Beach International Airport master plan from three runways and a 36 gate terminal to a limit of one runway and 18 gates that Foxworth considers his most memorable achievement. The citizens of District Three, in general, and the relatively new communities in Market Common, in particular, have a better quality of life than they would have otherwise experienced because of his efforts.
I would add his year after year attention to helping Rev. William Gause in that gentleman’s attempts to improve the Racepath community and the attention Foxworth gave to attempting to maintain a reasonable quality of life for the Pine Island community against unreasonable development plans were efforts of which he can be very proud.
Those communities had little political clout, but Foxworth fought for them because he truly liked the people in them and it was the right thing to do.
And Foxworth was totally correct about what a farce AvCraft was from beginning to end even though he was accused of playing politics with his criticism of the company. The truth is a great defense against those accusations.
Conversely, it was his inability to get a majority of council members to support limiting what has become oppressive tourist helicopter amusement rides over the south end of the city that Foxworth considers his biggest disappointment.
Foxworth’s service to the county is not over. He was appointed Horry County Registrar of Deeds in a unanimous vote by his county council colleagues Tuesday night.
Due to the state law against dual office holding, Foxworth had to resign from his council seat in order to accept the new appointment.
Foxworth is now gone from the council dais. Those of us who covered him during his entire tenure on council will not soon forget his thoughtful, intelligent discussions on county issues or the humor he often brought to those comments.
In my opinion, Horry County Council is a little poorer for no longer having Foxworth’s knowledge, experience and wit in his preferred end seat.
Good luck in your new position Marion.