Beaufort News

Three vie to succeed Fordham on Beaufort City Council

Three candidates, including a former acting mayor, will compete to succeed Beaufort City Councilman Gary Fordham, who died in April.

George O'Kelley, Larry Holman and Ron Petit entered the race on the filing period's opening day last month. The filing deadline for the July 19 special election closed at noon Saturday, with no other candidates stepping forward.

The special-election winner will serve the remainder of Fordham's term, which expires in 2012.

All three candidates have some experience with local elections.

O'Kelley, 69, is a Beaufort attorney and former city councilman who served briefly as acting mayor after Bill Rauch resigned in July 2008.

Holman, 63, is president of the Beaufort Black Chamber of Commerce. He ran unsuccessfully in 2010 for one of two at-large seats, which were won by incumbents Mike Sutton and Donnie Beer.

Ron Petit, 70, is retired from the Air Force and a federal civil service employee. He ran unsuccessfully against O'Kelley and four others for two at-large City Council seats in 2004.

State law requires the special election be held on the 13th Tuesday after a vacancy occurs. In this case, that falls on July 19, the same week as the 56th annual Beaufort Water Festival.

Beaufort residents who want to cast a ballot in the special election must be registered to vote by June 19, according to the city's website.

Beaufort's council consists of five nonpartisan members -- four council members who serve staggered four-year terms, and a mayor, also elected every four years.

All members are elected at-large.

Council members receive an annual stipend of $4,800. The mayor's stipend is $6,000.

The council typically meets three times a month, on Tuesdays.