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Campaign 2012: Incumbents face challengers as filing books open

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

There are several new faces on the Georgetown County political scene, but only one real surprise as filing gets under way for candidates who want to appear on the primary election ballot in June.

Auditor Linda Mock, a Pawleys Island area Democrat, and County Council Member Austin Beard, an Andrews Republican, are among the candidates who found out since filing opened at noon on March 16 that they’ll face opposition in their re-election campaigns. Filing continues until noon March 30.

Brian Shult, a Pawleys Island area resident, is the most recent Republican to file for office. He will challenge Mock for the position of auditor in the November election, assuming no one else files for the seat and a primary doesn’t have to take place. He filed on Monday and announced his campaign that night at a meeting of the Waccamaw Neck Republican Club.

Shult is the club’s vice-president and has spent his career in business ownership and the hospitality industry. He was president of a farm machinery company on the Gulf Coast of Texas and a chimney service business in Vermont. Additionally, he spent a dozen years in resort hotel management and was a real estate broker before that. He now works for Home Depot in Murrells Inlet.

This is the year to “take America back one county at a time,” said Shult, who added that he believes in budgetary and tax restraint at all levels of government. “The tax policy of Georgetown County must reflect and strengthen the county’s economy.”

Mock, who has served two terms as auditor, hasn’t yet filed to run for her third term, but said she plans to do so this week. She defeated Republican Rod Stalvey in a race for the seat in 2008 with 56 percent of the vote.

Before being elected auditor, Mock was executive director of what is now Murrells Inlet 2020, a community revitalization group. Before that she was executive director of the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce. She also worked in TV news in Charlotte, Atlanta and Spartanburg, and for a time in real estate.

During her tenure, Georgetown County was the first in the state to reduce boat taxes.

The county GOP made no secret of the fact it was searching out candidates to run for offices held by Democrats, including auditor, treasurer and clerk of court. None had announced as of Wednesday, but Loretta Washington-Cooper, the county’s treasurer since 1991, filed to run for re-election on Friday.

Clerk of Court Alma White has not yet filed.

The filing of Bubba Grimes to run against Beard in County Council District 5 (Andrews) is the lone surprise thus far and means Beard will have an opponent in the primary as well as the general election in November.

Beard, 62, is seeking his second term and was the first of a steady stream of Republican candidates to file when the county GOP headquarters at Pawleys Plaza opened Friday. He works in management at Anderson Brothers Bank in Georgetown.

Grimes, 59, who has several business interests in the county, filed with the GOP shortly after, surprising not only Beard, but party officials.

Benjamin Dunn, 73, a Democrat, also filed to run for the seat on Friday.

“Obviously I have to devote my attention for the time being to the primary,” Beard said. “I well know I can’t take anything for granted.”

Having a Republican candidate means he’ll have to put more time, money and effort into his campaign than he might have otherwise, he noted.

“I’m going to have to be devoted,” he said.

Grimes’ business concerns keep him busy. He owns a Century 21 franchise in Georgetown, is very involved in running a family company, Richmond Realty Co., and a storage business called Applecool. But that’s part of why he decided to run for council, he said.

“We’ve got so much at stake, I feel like I don’t have a choice,” Grimes said. “Sometimes it’s more of a question of need to more than want to, but I’m excited about the prospect of getting involved and hopefully contributing some kind of business sense to our county, because the county is a business and it’s a big business.”

Grimes believes decisions on council “probably a lot of times are made from more of an emotional standpoint than a business standpoint,” he said.

He also wants to help attract new businesses to the county and address issues that have previously been largely overlooked, such as litter.

Dunn, who runs Dunn’s Variety Store in Andrews with his brother, has previously served in a variety of offices, including four years on Andrews City Council in the 1960s. He also worked for 14 years with the coroner’s office and 20 years with the magistrate’s office in Andrews.

He has worked all his life for Dunn’s, which was opened by his father in 1929. “When I was a baby, my mom would take me there in a blanket and put me under the counter while she was working,” he said.

Dunn decided to run for County Council because he loves the county and because a number of people in District 5 asked him to consider it, he said. Also, “I’m not ready to sit down and stop.” Asked about what he hopes to change or achieve if elected, he said “that’s hard to answer right now. The only thing I would say is people in the district could be more aware of what’s going on.”

If elected, Dunn would have regular town hall meetings in his district to update constituents about what’s going on in the county and hear their concerns.

As of this week, 15 candidates have filed with the county parties.

Three candidates for sheriff are among them, including two Republicans and a Democrat.

Sheriff Lane Cribb, who is seeking his sixth term, filed at the GOP event on Friday, as did Lance Cpl. Doug Dishong, who works for the Horry County Police Department. Darryel Carr, a Democrat and former deputy with the sheriff’s office, filed on Monday.

Beard might have technically been the first to file, Cribb said, but he filled out his paperwork a month and a half ago. Of facing opposition in the primary and general election, he said “it’s good for you. It’s good for your health.”

Republican Stephen Goldfinch of Murrells Inlet and Democrat Jarrod Ownbey of Ricefields filed to run for S.C. House District 108. Rep. Kevin Ryan, who currently holds the seat, isn’t running for re-election.

Thomas Winslow, a Republican and attorney with the Graham Law Firm in Florence, previously made noise about running for District 108, but hasn’t filed, though he was at the GOP event on Friday. He still hasn’t ruled out a run, he said.

County Council Members Ron Charlton, who represents the southern end of Waccamaw Neck and the City of Georgetown (District 2), and Leona Myers-Miller of Georgetown (District 3) filed on Friday, as did state Sen. Ray Cleary and Probate Judge Waldo Maring. All are unopposed so far.

State Rep. Carl Anderson, a Democrat, filed to run for re-election to House District 103 on Monday. His opponent in the primary, Jacqueline Williams, filed on Tuesday. County Council Member Lillie Jean Johnson of District 4 (Georgetown), a Democrat, is also up for re-election, but hasn’t filed yet.

Anyone wishing to file with a county party can do so by appointment. Call Jim Jerow for the GOP, 527-3209, or Herbert Dennison for the Democrats, 359-9541 or 527-1629.

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