Two Republicans will compete in a January primary to fill the Beaufort County Council seat vacated by Weston Newton, now a state representative.
Mark Lawson and Tabor Vaux both have filed paperwork to run for the Bluffton-area seat, which covers Daufuskie Island, Old Town Bluffton, Westbury Park, and the developments in the New Riverside area.
No Democrats are running.
Barring a petition or write-in candidate, the Jan. 29 Republican primary will effectively determine who wins the District 9 seat. The special election is scheduled for March 19.
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Lawson, 47, works as a sales and marketing manager for Servpro, which specializes in restoration and construction services. He also has coached youth baseball, softball and basketball in Bluffton and Beaufort County sports leagues. He has lived in Beaufort County for 22 years and has spent the past 16 in Bluffton.
Vaux, 29, is an associate at the Bluffton law firm Vaux & Marscher . He also has worked as an assistant solicitor in the 14th Circuit, helping prosecute crimes in Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton and Allendale counties. Vaux was born in Beaufort County and raised in Bluffton. He is the son of Bluffton attorney Roberts Vaux.
Neither candidate has run for public office before.
Newton, a Republican who occupied the seat for the past 13 years and was council chairman for the past decade, stepped down Dec. 3 to join the S.C. House of Representatives. He won an uncontested race for the state House seat Nov. 6.
Lawson, who praised Newton's work on council, said he decided to run at the urging of friends and associates. He believes the county is "on the right track" but says the budget will probably be council's biggest hurdle for the next few years.
"The biggest challenge, and that's with any government we see now, is finding ways to maintain the budget without cutting services," he said Tuesday.
Vaux said he is a "big proponent" of the Rural and Critical Lands preservation program and of efforts to protect the May and Okatie rivers, both of which are considered impaired by the state. He also wants to promote regional cooperation among governments.
"(Newton) has done a whole lot for this area, and he is obviously leaving some big shoes to fill, but I hope to build on his successes," Vaux said.
Lawson donated $350 to his campaign, according to a filing with the S.C. Ethics Commission. He has no other donors.
Vaux's filing lists a $250 donation from his father and $100 of his own money.
Follow reporter Casey Conley at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufortCo.