Two more candidates file for Bluffton Town Council election

dburley@islandpacket.comAugust 30, 2013 

Two more candidates -- both occasional critics of Bluffton government -- entered the race Friday for two seats on Town Council.

Garfield Moss and Bill Roe both filed for the Nov. 5 election and join Mayor Pro Tem Oliver Brown, incumbent Councilman Michael Raymond and challenger Gary Bensch as candidates, according to town staff.

Bluffton council members are elected at-large, and the seats are nonpartisan.

Moss, who ran unsuccessfully for council in 2008, filed a racial discrimination complaint against the town in 2005. He alleged to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development that, because he is black, Bluffton made zoning decisions to prevent him from using his property as he wished. The suit was later dropped.

In 2009, he also butted heads with the town over a bed-and-breakfast he was running from his home without the necessary licensing or safety inspections.

Attempts Friday to reach Moss for comment were unsuccessful.

Recently, Moss proposed moving the century-old Graves House to a property he owns near the corner of Wharf and Lawrence streets. Members of the town's Historic Preservation Committee reacted warmly to the proposal in July, but many details remain unresolved.

Roe also has had disagreements with the town. Last November, the Old Town resident and principal of Hilton Head Asset Management called the town's $1.2 million affordable-housing development on Wharf Street, paid for largely with federal stimulus money, "an ill-conceived idea."

"Private business could have done the whole deal a lot better -- at a lower price and in a much shorter period of time," he told The Island Packet.

Attempts Friday to reach Roe for comment were unsuccessful.

Brown, a maintenance engineer with the S.C. Department of Transportation, was elected to council in a special runoff in March 2008. Raymond has been a council member since 2009.

Bensch is the husband of Cynthia Bensch, a Republican who won a seat on Beaufort County Council in November.

Filing for the two seats opened at noon Aug. 7 and closes at noon Sept. 6. Anyone planning to vote in the election must be registered no later than Oct. 5.

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