Seven Beaufort County Council members are gearing up for re-election this November, and some say they hope challengers emerge, even if that makes it more difficult to retain their seats.
In recent election years, many council candidates have run unopposed. New faces could bring fresh perspectives and ideas to county government, many said.
"New faces bring a lot of new energy," said Councilman Rick Caporale, who will seek to retain his District 8 seat in November's general election. "... (I)t adds value to the body."
The first full day of party filing was Monday. No challengers filed in County Council races.
Council Chairman Paul Sommerville of Lady's Island and councilman Jerry Stewart of Sun City Hilton Head filed Monday.
In addition, Steve Fobes and Stu Rodman of Hilton Head Island; Jerry Stewart of Sun City; Tabor Vaux of Bluffton; and Laura Von Harten of Port Royal are up for election.
Councilmen Caporale, Fobes and Vaux said they intend to file before party filing closes at noon March 30. Party primaries are June 10, and the general election is Nov. 4.
County party leaders say they have had difficulty recruiting candidates in the past decade.
That's primarily because it's hard to catch potential candidates at the right age, according to Jerry Hallman, former chairman of the Beaufort County Republican Party. Middle-age residents often are tied up with full-time work and families, while older, retired residents often spend their time volunteering or want to avoid the public life, he said.
Beaufort County Democratic Party Chairman Blaine Lotz could not be reached for comment Monday.
Serving on the council is a tremendous time commitment and involves giving up some privacy, Fobes said. Still, it's nice to have a mix of people in the running, even if it means opposition, he added.
U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-Charleston, whose 1st Congressional District includes a portion of Beaufort County, might also run unopposed.
The former governor, who returned to Congress after winning a special election last summer, filed for re-election Monday. State Democrats say they have yet to secure a legitimate candidate for the office, meaning Sanford faces a potential free ride in defending his seat this year.
The lack of a Democratic opponent doesn't surprise College of Charleston political scientist Gibbs Knotts.
"To me, he was obviously most vulnerable in his comeback," Knotts said.
Nothing since last summer has shifted the political scales, Knotts said, and the district already leans to the right, in an election year when very few congressional incumbents are at risk.
On the other side of the aisle, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia, whose district includes a sliver of northern Beaufort County, also figures to run unopposed. Clyburn also filed Monday.
In other filings, state Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort, filed for re-election, as did Beaufort County Probate Judge Kenneth Fulp.
Hilton Head financial adviser Jeff Bradley filed for Rep. Andy Patrick's District 123 seat. Patrick pondered a run for state superintendent of education but will not run for that office or his current seat after financial problems became public as part of his ongoing divorce case. Beaufort Republican George Wright filed for the Beaufort County auditor's position.
Beaufort County deputy treasurer Maria Walls filed for the county treasurer position. Treasurer Doug Henderson announced last week he would not seek re-election.
Democrat Curtis Brantley filed for Democrat Rep. Bill Bowers' District 122 seat, which represents Beaufort, Hampton and Jasper counties.
Jasper County Auditor Hazel Holmes filed to defend her seat.
For a full list of positions open for election this year, go to
The (Charleston) Post and Courier contributed to this report. Follow reporter Zach Murdock at twitter.com/IPBG_Zach.