Despite the loss of his recent re-election bid, Bluffton Town Councilman Ted Huffman has plenty to be thankful for, he said Wednesday as he took a quick break from smoking a dozen turkeys.
"I'm thankful for the honor to be able to serve the people of this town," said the outgoing councilman and Bluffton BBQ purveyor. "Bluffton has always been behind me."
The election result, which saw Huffman beat out by newcomers Dan Wood and Harry Lutz, "was a letdown, but that's on me," he said. "I blame myself."
But Huffman said he's not holding a Thanksgiving pity party for himself.
"I'm thankful for the ability to have a thriving business in Old Town," he said.
Huffman said the council's work over the past four years has helped Old Town business owners such as himself through its support of Promenade growth and by making building codes in the historic district more flexible.
When he ran for office in 2011, the region was just emerging from recession, and Huffman said he wanted to work to boost economic development in town. He said Wednesday that the growth of the Don Ryan Center for Innovation over the past several years is an example of a success story in that effort.
The center, which is a partnership between the town and Clemson University aimed at helping local startup companies, "was a total gamble on (the council's) part," Huffman said.
"It was a leap of faith, but I think it was a good investment."
Operating out of space borrowed from the eviCore headquarters in Buckwalter Place, the center is poised to get a permanent home. That comes through a recent development agreement with a company that plans to build a Kroger grocery store, apartments and shops in Buckwalter Place. The company will build the center's new headquarters, and in exchange, the town will provide improvements to the development such as roads, underground utilities and a park.
Huffman said the town has also made strides in public safety during his tenure.
He cited the hiring of Police Chief Joey Reynolds as one of "the best decisions (the council) made" in recent years.
The opening of a police substation on May River Road earlier this year was also a coup for the town, he said.
"I thought we needed (more police) presence in Old Town for a long, long time," Huffman said.
"We fought for years and years and finally got that (substation). I'm glad it happened while I'm part of the council."
May River preservation was a key issue for Huffman when he took office. He said the town has taken steps forward and steps backward over the past four years in keeping parts of the river open for shellfish harvesting.
"The river has to be a long-term investment," he said, adding that he is disappointed he will no longer be helping to craft preservation policy.
While Huffman would not say whether he would consider running for office in the future, he did say, "I'm not going anywhere, and there's still work to be done."
Follow reporter Lucas High at twitter.com/IPBG_Lucas.