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Politics: Council candidate is his leading donor

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Steve Goggans has an $8,700 lead in fundraising over incumbent Bob Anderson in the race for County Council District 6. But $7,550 of that is the candidate’s own money.

Goggans, an architect, has raised $17,096 for the June 10 Republican primary. Anderson, a retired engineer who owns a home design business, has raised $8,375, according to reports filed last week with the state Ethics Commission. Anderson was elected in 2010 in a primary race with Barry McCall, a former magistrate. He raised $6,746 in that campaign, which he said he and his wife Karol ran themselves. That included $1,236 of his own money.

Anderson put $550 into this campaign for the filing fee. He said he couldn’t imagine spending money at the level of his challenger.

“Once I made the commitment, I made the decision to do what I could do,” Goggans said.

He’s spent $13,772 so far, with the biggest single expense being $5,707 for campaign signs. Goggans has spent another $4,583 on newspaper advertising.

Anderson has spent $7,110 in the campaign. His biggest expense has been $4,954 to Swatzel Strategies for consulting and campaign material. The company is owned by former County Council Member Tom Swatzel.

“We’re comfortable, but we’re squeaking by,” Anderson said. “All we can do is what we can with what we’ve got.”

Anderson expected Goggans would raise money from area businesses because of his role in opposing a plan to eliminate the paved median on Highway 17 in the Pawleys Island business district. Goggans stepped down as the leader of the Citizens Coalition for Ocean Highway when he filed for council. He said the election campaign was less expensive than the campaign against the median, which involved hiring an engineer to review the state Department of Transportation plan.

Goggans received a $1,000 donation from the state Realtors PAC. He and Anderson both interviewed with the local Realtors association. Anderson got the money in 2010.

Impact fees were one issue that was discussed, Goggans said. “I think they’re extremely high in the county,” he said. “It’s having a perverse impact on real estate investment.”

A sales tax referendum in 2012 would have eliminated the fees and used the sales tax to fund outstanding capital improvement projects. Voters defeated the referendum and Anderson, who voted to put it before voters, opposed passage.

Of the $9,346 in outside donations Goggans reported in the last six weeks, $3,550 came from people with interests in the real estate industry. That included $1,000 from Perry Shelley, a real estate developer, and $500 donations from James B. Moore Jr., a real estate attorney, and Gary Cooper, a partner in real estate and health care businesses. He also had $500 donations from Michael Bohan, a doctor, and Tom Stickler, the head of the Hagley Property Owners Association who is retired.

“I have a wide cross-section of donors,” Goggans said. “Bob Anderson has certainly not been a friend to business.”

Goggans also got $200 from Bob Jewell, president of Brookgreen Gardens and a former school board member, and $100 from Mike Adams, a member of Pawleys Island Town Council. Mayor Bill Otis and Council Member Howard Ward have donated to the Anderson campaign.

Anderson received a $1,000 donation from Walter Johnson of Georgetown, a retired Army general who started a health care company. Anderson said Johnson and his mother belonged to the same bridge club. He received $500 donations from Anna Kate Hipp, who has a home on Pawleys Island, and Stacy Clardy, a retired Navy captain who lives on the island. Brian Henry, a businessman who chairs the county Planning Commission, also donated $500. (Jeff Kinard, the former commission chairman, gave $250 to Goggans.) Another $500 came from Mike Morrison, a marine contractor who plans to move his business from McClellanville to Georgetown. Anderson said he is a personal friend.

“I’ve been amazed and humbled by the people who stepped forward to give me money,” Anderson said.

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