The town of Port Royal will soon have its first new mayor in almost a quarter-century.
Longtime Mayor Sam Murray did not file for re-election after six terms leading the town, starting in 1995. The retired educator had said his most recent re-election campaign in 2015 would be his last. He said he wanted to see through the sale of a former state port terminal that had long been slated for redevelopment.
Current Town Council member Mary Beth Gray-Heyward and Joe DeVito, a retired utility operations manager and volunteer on various government boards, filed to run for the mayor’s seat in the town election Nov. 5, ahead of Friday’s filing deadline.
Port Royal voters will also choose from three candidates for two open council seats. Incumbents Jerry Ashmore and Robert Landrum filed to run for another term on Town Council, while attorney Kevin Phillips is also running for one of the open seats.
Port Royal Town Council comprises a mayor and four council members elected at large for four-year terms.
Among the issues currently facing the town: regulation of short-term vacation rentals like those listed on Airbnb and VRBO, the future of the town shrimp dock, and continued redevelopment of the Port of Port Royal.
Port Royal Mayor
Joe DeVito: Chairman of the town’s Short-Term Rental Task Force, former Metropolitan Planning Commission chairman, former field operations manager at Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority, account executive for public works software company Lucity.
Mary Beth Gray-Heyward: Port Royal Town Council since 1992 and mayor pro tempore, Lowcountry Council of Governments board of directors, manager at Beaufort Memorial Hospital.
(Two open seats)
Jerry Ashmore: Elected to Town Council in 2015; former member of town Redevelopment Commission, city of Beaufort Design Review Board and Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce board; director of workforce development at The Greenery.
Robert Landrum: Unopposed to fill two remaining years of term when Tom Klein resigned in 2017, USC Beaufort history professor.
Kevin Phillips: First run for political office, Beaufort-Jasper YMCA of the Lowcountry board member, Leadership Beaufort graduate, attorney at S.C. Victim Assistance Network.