Treasurer David Adams defeated his first challenger in 12 years, with Richland County voters handing him a convincing re-election Tuesday.
In the only countywide race on the ballot and with light turnout, Adams won with about 57 percent of the vote.
Voters like Mozella Brown said he had proven his integrity during three terms in office. “He has experience and his record has been a good record,” she said after casting her vote at Asbury United Methodist Church.
Adams, 43, was opposed by Joe McEachern II, a 30-year-old marketing executive with a small campaign budget and familiar family name.
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But Adams received endorsements from political heavy-hitters, from Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., to Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and Sheriff Leon Lott. His is a political family, too, with his wife, Pamela Adams, a member of the Richland 1 school board.
“Our office made government work,” Adams said in acknowledging victory. “We just helped thousands and thousands of people. I never had to mention anything about anyone else, just about what we do in our office.”
The county treasurer is paid $112,415 a year and supervises 30 employees who process 500,000 property tax bills a year for homes, businesses and vehicles.
In his next term, Adams said he will press for a satellite office in Northeast Richland.
In 2002, Adams was information officer in the state treasurer’s office when he ran for the position, defeating an incumbent.
He became the only county treasurer in the state to allow installment payments, he said, a policy he credited for helping reduce by nearly one-third the number of people who weren’t able to cover their annual tax bills. His office was the first in the Midlands to pair issuance of car decals with payment of property taxes, too, making it easier for the taxpayer and saving administrative costs.
McEachern, though, tried to suggest the treasurer’s office plays a role in the decline of neighborhoods when homes are sold for nonpayment of taxes and absentee landlords step in.
The son of a state legislator, McEachern was making his second bid for public office; four years ago, he was unsuccessful in seeking a Richland 1 school board seat.
The candidates used automatic phone calling and direct mail in hopes of stirring interest in the race. They also visited churches; this past Sunday alone, McEachern said his team visited 38 congregations.
“In such a small turnout election, we’re focusing on individual voters, household to household,” Adams said in the final days of the campaign.
The most recent campaign reports showed Adams with $45,245.53 in contributions to McEachern’s $9,512, including a loan of $5,962.