3 mayor’s races are the focus of fall elections
By Bobby Bryant, Editor
Three mayor’s races – in Hartsville, Lamar and Society Hill – are likely to get most of the attention in November’s off-year elections in Darlington County. Five candidates are going after the Hartsville mayor’s post, which will be a vacant seat; incumbent Mel Pennington decided not to run again. In Lamar, Mayor Darnell Byrd-McPherson isn’t running again, and two candidates, including a Town Council member, want to succeed her. And Society Hill Mayor Tommy Bradshaw has two challengers as he seeks another term. Filing for the 10 council seats and three mayor’s races on the Nov. 2 ballots in various parts of the county closed Aug. 16. If needed, a runoff will be held Nov. 16, said county elections chief Hoyt Campbell. Here’s a closer look at the mayor’s races, followed by the council seats. HARTSVILLE MAYOR: Seeking to follow Pennington as leader of Darlington County’s biggest town are Justin Evans, Jordan Flowers (who both announced their bids months ago), J.D. Blue Sr., Stephen Peterson and Casey Hancock. Evans describes himself as an entrepreneur who has worked with three S.C. governors and who will “make it as easy as possible” for businessmen to work with the city. He also aims to focus on public safety. Flowers runs a furniture company and describes himself as a lifelong Darlington County resident. He says, “I am running to bring consistent and clear fiscally conservative leadership to the city of Hartsville.” Blue has been pastor of 2nd Missionary Baptist Church in Hartsville for 38 years; this is his first bid for elected office. He said he would like to see “citizens more involved.” He added: “I’d like to see some more improvements in our city. We can continue to build on the legacy of previous mayors.” (A photo of the candidate was not immediately available.) Peterson could not be reached for comment for this story. Hancock is an IT consultant and part owner of Wild Heart Brewing Co. in Hartsville. “I really love this town,” he said. “I credit Hartsville’s success to a lot of individuals that gave of themselves. . . . I just think there’s a lot more to do.” (A photo of the candidate was not immediately available.) LAMAR MAYOR: Incumbent Darnell Byrd-McPherson, elected in 2017 as the town’s first black female mayor, did not file for a second term. Seeking her post are Inez Bess Lee, a Town Council member who is not up for re-election, and James Howell. Lee describes herself as a Lamar native: “I love Lamar and look forward to helping our sweet little town prosper,” she says on the town’s website. Howell is a landscaper and lifelong Lamar resident. He said he would focus on bringing more business to Lamar. “It’s out there. We’ve just got to get them to come in and give us some (jobs),” he said. “The town needs a lot of help,” Howell said. “I’m going to see what I can do.” (A photo of the candidate was not immediately available.) SOCIETY HILL MAYOR: Incumbent Tommy Bradshaw is seeking another term as mayor of the town of about 560 people. Opposing him are Dwayne Duke and Scott Dixon. Duke and the mayor have feuded for months about the number of farm animals Duke and his wife keep on their land in the town limits. Bradshaw argued they were violating a 1970s ordinance and harming quality of life in the town, and ultimately convinced Town Council to pass a stronger livestock ordinance that will force the Dukes to remove most of their animals. The Dukes are fighting the ordinance. They run a bed-and-breakfast in Society Hill. Dixon, a 40-year town resident, is a graphic designer for a Florence software firm. He opposed the town’s action against the Dukes, saying it was driven by “personal agendas.” Dixon said, “We’re not growing as a town. We don’t have that vision we need to go forward.” (A photo of the candidate was not immediately available.) Here is a closer look at the council races on the ballot: DARLINGTON Darlington City Council Ward 1: Incumbent Sheila Baccus is being challenged by Daniel “Danny” Watson, a former Darlington police chief. “I think we can do better,” Watson said. “I think we need to at least try to work together.” Watson said that if elected, he will accept no salary as a council member. Darlington City Council Ward 2: Incumbent Elaine Reed has no opposition. Darlington City Council Ward 3: Incumbent John Segars has no opposition. HARTSVILLE Hartsville City Council District 1: Incumbent Kenzie Delaine, who only took his seat on council this summer, is being challenged by Carolyn McCoy Govan. She could not be reached for comment for this story. Hartsville City Council District 3: Incumbent Teresa Mack is being challenged by Andrew L. Tedder. He could not be reached for comment. Hartsville City Council District 5: Incumbent Bob Braddock has no opposition. LAMAR Lamar Town Council at-large: Incumbent Tyler Cook is unopposed. Lamar Town Council at-large: Incumbent Mary Ann Mack has no opposition. SOCIETY HILL Society Hill Town Council at-large (two seats): Incumbent Carolyn Oliver is running again; incumbent Tammy Gandy is not. Challengers seeking at-large seats are Kevin A. Long, Ernest L. Helms III, Denise Gale Douglas and Melissa Burch. Long describes himself as a nearly 25-year town resident who has witnessed “positive and negative aspects of town government.” He said “recent protracted deliberations by the council” made him think about “the need for a common-sense, balanced approach to dealing with town issues, and the need for decisions affecting the town to be made in a reasonable and timely manner.” Burch is president of the Long Bluff Historical Society (named after the Society Hill area’s original name). She has long been involved in town activities such as the Catfish Festival. Helms and Douglas could not be reached.