3 ballot candidates, write-in vie for 2 Port Royal Town Council seats

emoody@beaufortgazette.comOctober 26, 2013 

Port Royal Town Hall

STAFF PHOTO

Two incumbents, a newcomer and a write-in candidate are vying for two open seats on the Port Royal Town Council in the Nov. 5 election.

All four list revitalization of the vacant, abandoned Port of Port Royal and the downtown area as top priorities.

Three of the four -- write-in Lundy Baker and incumbents Vernon DeLoach and Mary Beth Gray Heyward -- will hash out the issues during a candidate forum at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Port Royal Elementary School, 1214 Paris Ave. Lee Helena Jr. was not listed as a participant.

Vernon DeLoach, 84, a retired construction representative for the U.S. Navy, has served on council for more than 14 years. Despite recent health problems, he wants Port Royal residents to know he is improving and wants to continue being a conservative voice on council for another four years.

"I do what's right in here," he said, tapping his heart.

DeLoach said he wants the town to grow properly -- whether that's making sure plans for a proposed Parker's gas station have safe entrances and exits, or keeping an appropriate density limit for buildings on the port property.

Helena, 38, is a construction manager for a finance company in Savannah. He also 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 elective politics.

Attempts this week to reach Helena for comment were unsuccessful.

Heyward, 58, director of clinical services at Lowcountry Medical Group, has served on council about 21 years. She said she listens closely to what residents tell her and tries to represent them.

"I want my grandchildren to grow up and live in a community like I did, where people care," she said.

The town needs to get empty lots filled with homes and productive businesses, and it needs to become a place where people want to visit and invest. That growth would help Port Royal avoid future tax increases, she said.

Baker, 52, has lived in Port Royal since 2009 after moving from Ohio. The manager of Park Beaufort and co-owner of The Lollipop Shop in Beaufort, said his write-in candidacy is his first attempt at public office.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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