3 file for 2 open seats on Port Royal Council

emoody@beaufortgazette.comSeptember 6, 2013 

Incumbents Vernon DeLoach and Mary Beth Grey Heyward will get a challenge from Lee Helena Jr. for the two Port Royal Town Council seats up for election in November.

By the noon deadline Friday, the three were the only residents to file for the non-partisan, at-large election.

All three candidates say the future of the Port of Port Royal is the town's most pressing issue. The shuttered property is owned by the S.C. State Ports Authority and has been on the market since 2005. Three potential deals to sell and develop the land have fallen through, the most recent in September 2012.

A more vibrant and economically stable downtown also is a high priority, they said.

DeLoach, 84, a retired construction representative for the U.S. Navy, has served on council for more than 14 years. He wants to be a conservative voice on council and give back to the community, he said.

Heyward, 58, director of clinical services at Lowcountry Medical Group, has served on council about 21 years. She has said she wants to continue working on the projects council has underway, such as creation of a form-based code.

Helena, a construction manager for a finance company in Savannah, is a member of the town's Design Review Board and its advisory committee for proposed form-based code. This is his first foray into politics.

"I have been involved with the other review boards for a while and just thought perhaps I could share my insight on a broader scale," he said.

Helena, 37, moved to Port Royal in 2002 to work for Allison Ramsey Architects Inc. He bought his Jem Lane home in 2004 and said he chose to run because he is invested in the community and its growth.

Getting a form-based code in place is among his key issues. Helena also said an incubation program might attract businesses to Paris Avenue.

Council terms are four years, and council members receive $4,200 a year.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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