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Politics: Council candidate hopes funds keep field clear

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The only announced candidate for Georgetown County Council District 1 says he is halfway toward his fundraising goal for the election campaign. John Thomas has raised $5,100, with most of his donations coming from his neighbors in North Litchfield, according to the latest filing with the S.C. Ethics Commission.

“I don’t like asking for money,” Thomas said, so he’s pleased with the result so far. His strategy is to raise enough to make any other potential candidates think twice when filing opens in March. He is running as a Republican.

Thomas is president of the Litchfield Beaches Property Owners Association. He is running for the seat held by Jerry Oakley, who is not seeking another term.

“I’m being told to get at least $10,000. Then we’re ready for anything,” Thomas said.

He put up $2,100 after announcing his candidacy in October. His wife contributed $1,000. Six of his neighbors gave $1,400.

Thomas also got $500 from Atlantic Ventures, a partnership run by Oakley and another former District 1 council member, Tom Swatzel.

Swatzel now runs a political consulting company, and Thomas paid him $1,520 at the start the campaign. He paid about $285 for printed campaign material.

So far, Thomas’ largest investment in the campaign has been his time. “I’m trying to go to every community meeting that I can find,” he said.

He has also met with Bob Plowden, who chaired the citizens committee which created the Visions report that became the basis for the county’s long-range capital plan.

“There’s more to it than people realize,” Thomas said of county government. “People want government that’s mostly invisible, but that pays attention when problems pop up.”

That’s one of the points he makes in a stump speech he drafted. In the next four years, he expects the council will see more issues related to development and land use as the effects of the Great Recession recede. “That will be a challenge to manage,” he said.

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