GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The Georgetown County Board of Elections decided Friday that a county councilmember has been deceitful when declaring his residency on official council paperwork.
After hours of questioning, the council declared that three-term councilman Austin Beard does not live where he claims which breaks rules of residency in the county.
In Georgetown County, a person that holds a council district position must live in the district they are chosen to serve.
In January, the Georgetown branch of the NAACP raised concerns of residency to the Board of Elections, claiming that Beard lives in the City of Georgetown, not in Andrews where he claims he does and should by office law.
“After years of rumors it was time to take accountability in Georgetown County,” said Marvin Neal, the Georgetown NAACP branch president.
Beard was at the podium for hours on and off answering questions from both sides who say they were just trying to decipher what the truth is. But in the end, the decision was that Austin Beard does not currently live, and has not for some time, in District Five or in the City of Andrews. He lives with his wife on Huger St.
“My intent was never to deceive anyone,” Beard says.
He says he doesn’t think the people in District Five are disappointed in him.
“I feel as if I have represented those people in the district and county adequately. I’ve had their desires at heart,” Beard says.
Beard does have options for the next step.
He can resign like the NAACP has asked him to, maintain his office unless the council or governor himself removes him, or appeal the board’s decision.
“We ask him to resign council immediately,” Neal says. “So a special election can be called so the people in that district can choose.”
"I will take time to decide what the process might be if we appeal,” Beard says.
Both sides saying they will continue to fight if needed.