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Election 2010: The message in the results

Failed write-in bid seen as win for fee plan

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Georgetown County Council Member Jerry Oakley’s easy victory on Tuesday could be considered a win for impact fees, the key issue that motivated his opponent, Ricky Horne, to launch a write-in campaign two weeks ago.

The fees on new development were implemented last year and lowered this year after an annual review.

“Some people have said the race in Council District 1 was in part a referendum on impact fees,” Oakley said. “If indeed it was, the voters have said clearly that they want growth to pay for itself and they don’t want the cost of growth settled on the backs of existing taxpayers.”

Oakley, a Republican, sailed into his third term with 94 percent of the vote. Horne received 208 votes to Oakley’s 3,203.

Horne also picked up a few votes in the neighboring council district, District 6, where Republican Bob Anderson ran unopposed, said Donna Mahn, the county’s director of elections and voters registration.

Anderson, who watched the numbers roll in from the county elections office in Georgetown, said he’d been warned that would probably happen — a result of voter confusion.

There were 49 write-in votes in District 6, but no one got the 25 necessary to be listed on official results.

Horne said the issues he ran on are valid ones.

In addition to impact fees, he criticized Oakley’s votes to raise millage to offset falling property values as a result of property reassessment and embark on a long-term $300 million capital improvement plan. Those actions were not in line with Republican values, he said.

“I think people just weren’t very interested in local government” at the polls this year, Horne said. “I think they got caught up in the national problems and trying to take care of that situation.”

He said he realized early on that would kill his chances.

“When I went to vote, I called [my campaign manager] and said ‘just forget about it,’ ” Horne said. “I looked at that crowd and saw the anger in their eyes and I knew it was over. These people were mad about how things are going on a national level. They were voting straight party ticket; voting against Obama and walking out the door.”

Horne said he’d been campaigning hard up to that point. He was up long before dawn on Tuesday, putting up signs and leaving campaign materials on doorsteps. Leading up to the election, he had campaigned door to door and shook hands at area restaurants and events.

But after he voted, he decided not to spend any more time at the polls. He went instead to the hospital to visit a friend who had surgery that day.

On Wednesday, Horne said he wasn’t certain how many votes he had received.

Oakley was also absent from the polls. He spent Tuesday catching up on some reading and running errands.

“I feel like by the time you come to Election Day, folks have heard all they want to hear and they’ve made up their minds,” Oakley said. “I don’t want to slow them down when they’re trying to vote.”

Even before Election Day, Oakley didn’t do much campaigning. He spoke to about 80 people in Litchfield last week without ever tossing out a “vote for me.” But he did put out some yard signs and the county Republican party made campaign calls for him from its Victory 2010 headquarters at Pawleys Plaza.

While the results were coming in, Oakley was cheering on Kevin Ryan, the Republican candidate for House District 108, at a small gathering at the home of Ryan’s parents.

Ryan was also victorious Tuesday, according to unofficial election results.

“We did a lot of yelling and screaming, trying to get Kevin across the finish line,” Oakley said. “That’s huge” for the county GOP.

Of his own race, Oakley said he has been privileged to serve for the past eight years and is looking forward to four more.

As he enters his third term, “the first challenge will be to meet the continuing economic challenge to keep the county financially healthy while avoiding any tax increases and cuts to essential services,” he said.

County Council Chairman Johnny Morant was also re-elected this year. A Democrat, he ran unopposed in Council District 7.

Anderson, the only new council member elected this year, will take office in January.

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