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Politics: Vacant House seat draws early interest

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

No one has announced plans to run for House District 108 in the week since Republican state Rep. Kevin Ryan announced he won’t seek re-election, but at least two Waccamaw Neck residents are giving the idea serious thought.

Alan Walters of North Litchfield, a county magistrate and judge for the town of Pawleys Island, and David DuRant of Garden City, the town’s attorney, confirmed this week they are considering a run. They said they started thinking about it several weeks ago, well before Ryan’s announcement.

Stephen Goldfinch, a Murrells Inlet attorney and private pilot, has also expressed interest in the seat, according to Republican officials.

With about six months left until filing opens, there’s no rush for decision making.

“I’m going to talk with my family first and foremost, but also folks in the community, and see how they feel about it,” said Walters, 48.

He and his wife, Susan, have two sons, Bobby, 14, and Jason, 11.

An announcement of candidacy would mean resigning as a magistrate, so he wants to be very certain of his decision before he takes that step.

“It’s simply exploratory at this point. It’s very early in the process,” Walters said.

A former county deputy and chairman of the county GOP, he said he has a passion for public service. He once ran for sheriff.

“It’s what I’ve done throughout my career. This would be an extension of that,” Walters said.

Walters has been a magistrate and municipal judge since 2002. Before that, he worked in law enforcement for 17 years.

He is active with the Boy Scouts and the Rotary Club.

DuRant, 53, said he has always wanted to run for office.

“It’s been a timing issue. I had kids to raise,” he said. He’s a father of four.

“I was coaching football games and Little League games. I was involved very heavily in their lives. Now I’m in a position where I can do some public service.”

His youngest child, Ross, is a freshman at Clemson studying business. He has two other children in college. His daughter, Ali, is a senior at the University of South Carolina and plans to teach elementary school after graduation. His son, Woody, is a freshman at the Charleston School of Law.

His oldest, daughter Jess, teaches at Burgess Elementary School.

DuRant graduated from Clemson and the USC School of Law. After a year practicing law in Manning, he moved to the coast, where he practiced with retired Judge Tommy Cooper. He ran the firm’s coastal office until 1996, when the firm was divided and he started his own firm in Surfside Beach.

He represented the town of Surfside Beach for about 22 years.

DuRant said he wants to wait until new boundaries for District 108 have been approved by the U.S. Justice Department — something expected to happen in the next few weeks — before he makes up his mind about throwing his hat in the ring.

“I want to make sure I’m in the district,” he said. “I’m in the district now and I don’t anticipate that will change, but I’m waiting until it’s final.”

Goldfinch, 29, was flying Wednesday and couldn’t be reached for comment. He was a recent applicant for a seat on the state Aeronautics Commission. He withdrew last week to throw his support behind a more experienced candidate, but told legislators he was interested in other positions that would allow him to serve his community.

He graduated from The Citadel and Charleston School of Law. His family has been in the funeral business for 120 years, he said, but he decided to go in a different direction.

Nancy Kolman, chairwoman of the Georgetown County Democratic Party, said she knows of two candidates who have expressed interest in pursuing the seat on her party’s ticket, but she won’t give names.

Additionally Republicans and Democrats alike are still speculating on whether Ryan’s predecessor, Democrat Vida Miller, will appear on the ballot again in 2012.

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