Lowcountry voters have chosen a new face after more than 20 years of the same state representative in Columbia.
Hampton County Councilman Shedron Williams defeated longtime state Rep. Bill Bowers, D-Hampton, in the Democratic primary for S.C. House District 122, according to unofficial results posted Wednesday. The district includes parts of Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton counties.
The district had no Republican candidates.
Williams grabbed 52.5 percent of the vote— 2,903 votes — while Bowers finished at 47.5 percent with 2,624 votes, according to results reported to www.scvotes.org.
Bowers and Williams faced off in a runoff for the seat in 2016, with Bowers narrowly earning a return trip to Columbia.
"That actually told me by the numbers that the people were ready for a change," Williams said Wednesday. "He was a 20-year incumbent at that point."
Bowers first took office in 1997 and campaigned in part on his experience and posts on multiple House committees. He touted his membership on a tax policy committee he said would be introducing property tax reform in the coming year.
In acknowledging defeat Wednesday, Bowers said he hopes Williams continues to work on property tax laws and shares Bowers' interest of preserving open lands.
Bowers, 65, said it might have been time to quit but bemoaned giving up his position on a House tax policy committee.
"I hope that he can continue our fight to change our property tax policy that punishes rural South Carolina, that makes it difficult to attract investment," Bowers said.
Williams, a father of four who has worked in public health as director of education and prevention at ACCESS Network for 16 years.. He said he has worked on Hampton County Council for better roads and schools, and two years ago, became the council's first black chairman since the 1860s.
The 50-year-old Hampton native said he would work as a representative for safer schools with better resources, provide shelter for homeless veterans and expand senior citizens programs.
"I'm here to serve the people," Williams said. "I will be visible."