Newton to remain on County Council through election

cconley@islandpacket.comAugust 2, 2012 

Beaufort County Council Chairman Weston Newton, who won the GOP primary for S.C. House District 120 in June, says he's planning to retain his council seat until after the Nov. 7 general election.

Newton indicated he is taking nothing for granted in the House race, even though no Democrat or petition candidate is running against him.

"Until the general election in November, I am a candidate for the House 120 seat," Newton said this week. "The primary was the de facto election, but it was not the election in fact."

"My intention would be to serve until I am required to step down," he added, noting that new state legislators aren't sworn in until several weeks after Election Day.

Newton, 45, cannot hold both offices at the same time, according to Scott Marshall, executive director of Beaufort County's Board of Elections and Registration.

If Newton's timetable holds, the county would need to hold a special election to fill his seat, a process that costs about $10,000, Marshall said. The cost would double if a primary becomes necessary.

The timing of any special election would depend on when Newton steps down.

"Filing period opens on the third Friday following the vacancy," Marshall explained. "The primary is held on the 11th Tuesday following the vacancy, and the special election is held the 18th Tuesday following the vacancy."

Whoever wins the race would finish Newton's term, which expires in 2014.

County Council is scheduled to elect a new chairman in January. At least four people have expressed interest in the position, according to council Vice Chairman Paul Sommerville, who says he's one of them.

S.C. House District 120, which was redrawn after the 2010 Census, includes parts of Bluffton, Okatie, Burton and a sliver of Hilton Head Island.

Newton's council district, which also was redrawn after the census, will include Old Town, New Riverside and most neighborhoods between Malphrus and Buck Island roads. It also will be renumbered from District 4 to District 9.

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