Two incumbents, one challenger to run for Bluffton Town Council

Oliver Brown files for re-election

tbarton@beaufortgazette.comAugust 21, 2013 

Want to run?
The filing period for two seats on Bluffton Town Council closes at noon Sept. 6. Candidates can file at Bluffton Town Hall, 20 Bridge St. Anyone planning to vote in the Nov. 5 election must be registered by Oct. 5.
The race is on for two seats on Bluffton Town Council.

Mayor Pro Tem Oliver Brown filed Wednesday to run for re-election. He joins incumbent Michael Raymond and challenger Gary Bensch, according to the deputy town clerk.

Two seats are up for grabs in the Nov. 5 election. Bluffton members are elected at-large to the nonpartisan council.

Brown, a maintenance engineer with the S.C. Department of Transportation who was elected to council in a special runoff in March 2008, said Wednesday he wants to keep Bluffton a "livable community," maintaining a "small-town feeling," while turning the town into a business center.

According to Brown's biography on the town's website, his relatives fished, crabbed, gathered oysters, and shrimped in the May River for generations. His father moved the family to Savannah because he didn't want to "pick oysters" for a living, but Brown moved back to Bluffton in 1961.

"Bluffton is a place I hope my children will one day return to, and I feel (the Town Council has) made great strides these past five years" in improving the quality of life and economic stability of the community. "Some positive things have happened."

Chief among those accomplishments, he said, are the completion of a Wharf Street affordable-housing project, development of the Buckwalter technology park, creation of a taxpayer-supported small-business incubator and efforts to restore the May River.

Raymond has been a council member since 2009. He said last week he wants to wean the town from its dependence on tourism and replant trees to soak up runoff that pollutes the May River.

Bensch is the husband of Cynthia Bensch, a Republican who won a seat on Beaufort County Council in November. Attempts last week and Wednesday to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom.

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