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Politics: Petition candidates see safety in numbers

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Five people petitioning to appear on the November ballot to run for countywide seats say they have collected enough signatures to be certified, or will have done so by the cutoff at noon on Monday.

The candidates are scheduled to start filing into the county Office of Voter Registration and Elections today to turn in their petitions to Donna Mahn, the director of elections. She has scheduled meetings with them over three days to make sure everything is in order.

“I didn’t want them all flying in here at noon on Monday,” she said. “I wanted to make sure everybody had time to sit down and be taken care of the right way.”

Tammie Avant, who plans to run for clerk of court will be the first. Her appointment is set for 3 p.m.

Candidates petitioning to run for countywide seats are required to collect 2,014 signatures. Mahn and her staff will have to check each signature to make sure it’s legitimate.

Avant said she collected 3,200 signatures, so there shouldn’t be any problem meeting the limit. As soon as she’s certified, she’ll start campaigning full force in hopes of unseating the incumbent, Democrat Alma White.

Kathy Harrelson, who wants to run for auditor, a seat for which there is no incumbent, and Darryel Carr, who plans to take on Sheriff Lane Cribb, will meet with Mahn on Friday. Rod Stalvey, who is also petitioning to run for auditor, will turn in his paperwork on Monday.

Carr is the only one who said he doesn’t have the minimum number of signatures yet.

“It’s coming along,” he said. “I’m maybe 400 or 500 short.” But there are seven or eight petitions he hasn’t collected yet from people who have been helping him.

“Hopefully that will do it,” he said. But in this election year it doesn’t pay to count on anything, he said.

Carr ran into a lot of people who were hesitant to put their names on the ballot for a petition candidate, he said. And the summer heat has made heading out to try to collect signatures nearly unbearable.

Carr even worked the crowd at the Pawleys Island Fourth of July Parade last week.

Stalvey agrees with that. He has about 2,200 signatures and said combatting the heat was the hardest part.

He and Harrelson will compete for the auditor’s seat against Brian Shult, a Republican and one of only a handful of candidates who weren’t kicked off the ballot for improperly filing a statement of economic interest.

Harrelson, who has also exceeded the required number of signatures, is the only petition candidate who wasn’t removed from the ballot. She decided to run after the close of filing after the incumbent, Linda Mock, announced at the last minute she didn’t plan to seek re-election.

Harrelson was also at the Pawleys Island parade, but her float was about voting, not petitioning. When one voter asked to sign, she confessed that she didn’t bring her petitions. “I guess I should have,” she said.

Once the candidates are certified, “the key thing is seeing what the ballot is going to look like,” said Andrews, who has about 2,400 signatures. Knowing that will help them get a better idea about their chances of competing with candidates who are affiliated with a party.

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