Lowcountry Election Guide 2009

By Live 5 News Staff email | twitter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Voters across the Lowcountry head to the polls Tuesday to elect the leaders of their communities. Many are tuning into the Mt. Pleasant mayoral race, but there are several contests that may come down to the final votes.

However, one this is clear no matter where the voters line up. Transparency is a running theme across the Lowcountry this election cycle.


Much of the attention has gathered around a three-man race for mayor in Mt. Pleasant. This is the first year in which former mayor Harry Hallman will not seek re-election.

Gary Santos is pushing for transparency, calling for complete minutes of all council meetings to be recorded instead of the significant measures discussed, as is done now. Santos is also pushing for new development to drive up tourism at Patriots Point, one of the town's largest attractions. He, like his competition for the mayor's chair, is also focusing on upgrading the town's senior center, improving it and making it even more a gathering point for many in Mt Pleasant.

Joe Bustos is largely focused on growth in and around Mt Pleasant. He would like to team up with lawmakers across the Lowcountry to make it easier for the town to incorporate several unincorporated pockets across the town's area north of the Ravenel. Bustos also has an idea to pair up newly formed businesses with more long-standing enterprises until they have enough capital to open their own space, an idea many are calling an interesting way to foster small business in the area.

Billy Swails has a strong backing in the form of endorsements from former mayor Harry Hallman, and acting-mayor Kruger Smith as well as several council members. He often cites his ability to form a consensus on the council. He, like the other two candidates, wants to see more economic development in Mt. Pleasant, but would like to see businesses move into the shuttered buildings that exist instead of build new structures on the town's outskirts.

In council elections, 19 candidates are competing for only four at-large seats and the four candidates with the most votes take the seats. Two candidates are running two open waterworks positions.


One of the larger elections in the Lowcountry could turn out to be the Awendaw mayoral race. Mayor William Alston, the only mayor the town of Awendaw has ever had, faces his first ever challenger in Samuel Robinson.

Robinson is a town councilman who is making a stand on zoning practices and limiting growth and development. "I want to bring transparency. I want to set up a day and a time each week that citizens can come into my office and sit with me, and talk with me and share with me their concerns," Robinson said.

Alston said the growth is essential to the town's survival. He says there are three large tracts of land where thousands of homes or businesses could be developed over the next 30 years, and he says the town needs it to make money and provide police, fire, and administrative services. "Unless we have a little bit of growth based on our mission statement, we are not going stay here long as a town," Alston said.

Awendaw voters will also weigh in on whether part of their Town Council should be converted from at-large to single-member districts. Alston is for the change; Robinson is against transition.


Voters on the Isle of Palms have two men to choose from for mayor, incumbent Dick Cronin or challenger Jimmy Ward. There are also six candidates competing for four council seats.

[Read Keke Collins' report on the IOP race.]

Sandy Stone, Ron Denton, Barb Gobein, Barbara Bergwerf, Marty Betelli and Doug Thomas are competing for the four open seats on the town council.


In Rockville, Mary Ann Cates is going after the mayor's seat. She is running unopposed. There are four town council seats up for grabs and only three people -- Allen Holmes, Henry Holst, and Zachary Nelson -- are vying for the spots, so the races are all but over before the polls even open.


On Seabrook  Island, mayor Frank McNulty is stepping out of the political ring and making way for Bill Holtz who is running unopposed. There are also six candidates jockeying for four seats on the Island's council and two candidates looking for a single utility commission seat.


Four Charleston City Council districts will see elections, mostly in James Island and West Ashley.

In District 2, Blake Hallman, Rodney Williams (not shown), and Stephen Ziker are squaring off for the one open seat.

In District 8, Yvonne Evans (not shown) and Mike Seekings are competing for the one open seat in the district.

In District 10, Art Beane (notshown), Dean Riegel (not shown), and Ginger Rosenberg are asking voters for enough support to pick up the one open seat.

In District 12, Kathleen Wilson and Craig McLaughlin are going after the one open chair on the council.

Live 5 News will be watching the races and updating you on air, on the web, and on Twitter as polls close and results come in. If you have a question about a particular race, send us a message on Twitter and we'll be sure to look it up and get the information to you.

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