Petition candidate gets all clear to run against County Treasurer

For the first time since taking office in 1991, embattled Beaufort County Treasurer Joy Logan will face opposition in a general election.

County officials announced Thursday that Doug Henderson, a 66-year-old retired banker and Cat Island resident, collected enough valid signatures to appear on the ballot opposite Logan in November. Logan, a Republican, was the only person to file as a party-nominatedcandidate by the March 30 filing deadline.

State law required Henderson to collect signatures from at least 5 percent -- or 4,720 -- of the county's 94,393 registered voters by July 15 to appear as a petition candidate.

Hours before the deadline, Henderson, a Republican, submitted a 1,043-page petition containing 9,690 signatures to the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections, which had until Mondayto verify the signatures.

Despite collecting more than twice the number of required signatures, Henderson called Thursday's announcement "a great relief."

"You have a feeling it's going to happen, but you don't know how it's going to feel when they call you to tell you that you did it," Henderson said. "You always have that doubt in the back of your mind. I certainly hope this is an indication that there are many people out there who want to see change in this important office."

State law requires county elections officials to check each of the first 500 signatures collected and at least one of every 10 signatures thereafter. If the required number of signatures is not found using that sampling method, each signature beyond the first 501 also must be checked individually.

Scott Marshall, executive director of the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections, said his staff checked more than 6,100 signatures before the 4,720-signature requirement was met.

Logan said she had no plans to challenge the results.

"There's no sense in challenging since he has such a substantial margin of additional signatures," Logan said. "I'm just going to get ready for the campaign."

Two other potential petition candidates abandoned their efforts to become the first opponent Logan has faced since the 1990 Republican primary. In that race, she defeated former county administrator Michael O'Neill by about 1,500 votes. She has run unopposed in every primary and general election since, according to county records.

Logan has come under fire recently from members of Beaufort County Council and Beaufort County Administrator Gary Kubic following the May 12 arrest of Casaundra White, a former Treasurer's Office employee accused of stealing more than $210,000 from the office's public accounts.

Given the recent scrutiny she has faced, Logan said she hopes the upcoming campaign is a clean one.

"I don't want this to turn into a lot of mudslinging," Logan said. "That's not who I am. I'd like to see this kept professional."

Henderson said he plans to steer clear of personal or political attacks and focus instead on improving financial controls and other policies within the Treasurer's Office.