Kigre COO to challenge Edwards for Ward 3 seat

tbarton@islandpacket.comAugust 3, 2012 

Hilton Head Island's most-recent Town Council member will face one of the town's staunchest critics in the November general election.

Lee Edwards, 44, president and CEO of The Greenery, filed paperwork Friday to seek re-election representing Spanish Wells, Wexford, Long Cove Club, Shipyard and Point Comfort.

Challenging him is Jeff Myers, chief operating officer for island laser-component manufacturer Kigre.

Myers, who has railed against town efforts to collect fees from his business, filed to become a candidate for the Ward 3 seat Wednesday.

Attempts Friday to reach both candidates were unsuccessful.

Edwards' term expires in December, along with Ward 1 representative Bill Ferguson'sand Ward 6 representative Ken Heitzke's.

Ferguson has said he will run again in the nonpartisan election. Heitzke has remained mum. Former mayoral candidate Jim Collett and Port Royal resident John McCann filed earlier in the week to run for Heitzke's seat. Filing closes at noon Aug. 15.

The town won a ruling in February against Kigre, which asserts the town charged it excessive business-license fees.

Kigre was sued by the town after challenging efforts to collect payments on business-license fees based on its gross receipts.

The company, operating on Hilton Head since 1986, has been paying the minimum amount of the fee -- about $62 per year -- and argued it was exempt from paying more, primarily because most of its sales occur outside South Carolina. Kigre said its fee should be based only on what it sells in the state.

Beaufort County Master in Equity Marvin Dukes III said the business-license ordinance is legal, and Kigre is required to pay the fees based on gross income.

Kigre asked Dukes to alter his judgment. Dukes has yet to rule on the motion, but he told the company's attorney, Tom Taylor, he intended to rule against them.

Taylor said the company would appeal.

Myers' brother, Dave, part owner of the company, ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2010, garnering 3 percent of the vote.

Edwards won more than 55 percent of the vote in a February 2011 special election to fill the seat vacated when then-Councilman Drew Laughlin was elected mayor.

Edwards, who grew up on the island, ran on a platform of "innovation and preservation" -- calling for fresh ideas to attract business to the island, while continuing to protect the environment. Among his top priorities were changes to town practices and regulations that make redevelopment of aging island properties more likely.

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