Ousted Hardeeville councilman vows to push for redistricting

rlurye@islandpacket.comMay 14, 2014 

A day after losing his position on Hardeeville City Council, Sal Arzillo said he has plans to help push for redistricting that would guarantee seats to residents of downtown Hardeeville.

Arzillo, who got only 146 votes, according to an unofficial count, said he was disappointed the only council member who will live in the 5 square miles that comprised Hardeeville before annexations in 2005 is Mayor Bronco Bostick.

Arzillo, a businessman who ran for reelection amid legal troubles, said he thinks that could threaten the interests of those who live downtown, many of them low-income families with priorities that are different from people who live in retirement and resort communities.

Arzillo pays taxes on four properties in the original Hardeeville, according to Jasper County tax records.

Newcomer David Spisso, who led the five-candidate field with 578 votes, lives in Sun City. Carolyn Kassel, who had 513 votes, lives in Hampton Pointe. Council members Scott Ready and Michael Sweeney live in Hilton Head Lakes and Sun City, respectively.

Spisso said he plans to fairly represent all residents of Hardeeville, adding he takes issue with anyone who would question the intentions of council's newcomers before they have begun to work.

"That's a ploy these people are going to try to pull to divide this city," Spisso said. "It's caustic."

Kassel said public awareness of Arzillo's legal entanglements probably cost him votes.

Arzillo is the subject of an ongoing S.C. Law Enforcement Division investigation into a November incident with a Hardeeville police officer, and he faces a lawsuit and criminal charges in connection with alleged pollution violations.

Kassel said several people also approached her at the polls Tuesday and said their votes were influenced by the outgoing councilman's tendency to pay his property taxes late each year -- they remained overdue Wednesday, according to Jasper County records.

Arzillo agreed with Kassel.

"That's how it goes," Arzillo said. "When I saw my name started popping up in the paper like it was, I knew the election was going to be hard if not impossible."

Both incoming candidates took absentee ballots by an overwhelming margin, Spisso and Kassel with 130 and 106 votes, respectively, compared to Arzillo's 10 and outgoing councilwoman Sherry Carroll's eight, according to Hardeeville Municipal Election Commission chairman John Kemp.

A fifth candidate, Justin Patel, received 16 absentee votes.

Spisso said he was grateful voters expressed their faith in him and Kassel. Both say they plan to absorb the city's plans and goals to prepare for the summer.

Along with tackling the budget, Spisso said he hopes to focus on education, development and downtown beautification.

"I think that's something that could be instantly done to notice a change in the community," he said.

Kassel said the council also will aid in the search for new leadership -- the city is searching for a permanent attorney, manager, police chief and fire chief to replace those serving interim positions.

"I'm really looking forward to the challenge we have," Kassel said. "I want to make sure we can make changes in the city, that we can leave it a better place than we found it."

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

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