Incumbents Heyward, DeLoach retain seats on Port Royal Town Council

emoody@beaufortgazette.comNovember 5, 2013 

Incumbents Mary Beth Gray Heyward and Vernon Deloach will return for four more years on Port Royal Town Council, according to unofficial results from Tuesday's election.

Heyward led in the number of votes, with 146, followed by DeLoach with 108.

There were 76 write-in votes, which, based on print outs at polling places, were all cast for Lundy Baker.

Lee Helena Jr., who withdrew from the race last week, had 34 votes, which will not count.

Heyward, 58, is director of clinical services at Lowcountry Medical Group, and has served on council about 23 years. She spent about six hours outside Town Hall, one of two polling locations, sitting in a folding chair. She held a campaign sign and waved at everyone who passed.

"I wanted people to know I was running and I worked hard for that seat," she said.

Heyward said she "can't wait to continue being the voice of the people" on council.

DeLoach, 84, is a retired construction representative for the U.S. Navy and has served on council for more than 14 years. He said he wants to focus on the work ahead for council, starting with deciding what to do about a controversial Parker's gas station project the panel is set to consider during its meeting Wednesday.

Baker, 52, is manager of Park Beaufort and co-owner of The Lollipop Shop in Beaufort. His write-in candidacy was his first attempt at public office. He said it will not be his last.

"I am excited that Port Royal has some good people to continue on the work they do, and I plan to run the next time around," he said.

Port Royal elections typically have low voter turnout.

No election was held in 2011 because three candidates ran for three seats. In 2009, however, DeLoach and Heyward won with 183 and 151 votes, respectively, out of 561 votes cast. The previous two elections saw 355 and 293 votes cast.

Poll workers said voters trickled in all day.

Precinct clerk Armethia Burnes, at Community Bible Church where Burton 1A, 2A, 2B and 2C voted, said workers used down time to train newer poll workers.

At Port Royal Town Hall, where Port Royal 1 and 2 voted, precinct clerk Billy Dilsaver was disappointed in the turn out.

"I think I can speak for all the poll managers -- we love this town, that's why we volunteer our time -- and to have the small turnout we had today tells me that maybe the voters don't love the town of Port Royal like the people who volunteer their time," he said.

Voters who did turnout did so for a variety of reasons and loyalties.

Geraldine Woods voted for the incumbents -- Heyward because "being her, growing up in Port Royal, I believe she has Port Royal's best interests at heart," and DeLoach because he described himself as conservative.

One voter, who declined to give her name, came out to write-in a vote for Baker. She didn't cast a second ballot, and said she was tired of the status quo and wanted change.

"I couldn't see any difference between (the incumbents)," she said.

Port Royal Town Council results

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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