Petition candidate Alice Howard will be the only new face on Beaufort County Council next year after ousting Democratic incumbent Laura Von Harten from the District 4 seat in Tuesday's general election.
Howard will represent Port Royal and part of the city of Beaufort after she is sworn in early next year. Von Harten's term runs through December.
In other County Council results, Republican incumbent Rick Caporale of Hilton Head Island captured 91 percent of the vote in unofficial totals, easily fending off write-in challenger Lynn King for the District 8 seat. The lopsided result belies the year's most expensive race for a countywide office -- combined, Caporale and King spent more than $18,000, according to their campaign-finance filings.
That amount far exceeded the $5,400 spent on the District 4 race, the only one to include two candidates on the ballot. Howard captured about 59 percent of the 2,275 votes cast, according to unofficial returns.
Results will be certified by the county on Friday.
"Just getting elected is exciting," Howard said. "I had a lot of wonderful supporters; a lot of good advice. It was a totally new experience for me, and that was the hard part, not knowing what to expect, but now I'm really excited."
Von Harten has served on County Council since 2007.
"I'm disappointed, but I'm very happy for Alice," Von Harten said. "We've already got plans to meet, and I'm looking forward to being her constituent. I think she'll be of good service to the citizens of Beaufort County."
Howard brings an extensive planning and military background to the council.
Now retired, she served as environmental director and community liaison director during 25 years with Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. She also is a past member of the Beaufort Zoning Board of Appeals and the county's Solid Waste Advisory Board.
Howard has criticized the council's loyalty to the Lowcountry Economic Alliance and wants the county to pursue a partnership with the Southern Carolina Alliance, which counts Jasper County among its six members.
However, last week Howard agreed with Von Harten's decision to give the Lowcountry Economic Alliance $195,000 this year, saying it would be unfair to pull the group's funding at mid-year. Von Harten's cast the deciding vote last month to approve that funding in what had become a heated, divisive issue for the council.
Howard also has pledged to hold monthly meetings throughout the district to provide residents a new forum to raise and debate local issues.
The rest of the council will remain unchanged with incumbent Republicans Steve Fobes and Stu Rodman of Hilton Head Island; Tabor Vaux of Bluffton; Jerry Stewart of Sun City; and Paul Sommerville of Lady's Island retaining their seats without opposition.
OTHER COUNTYWIDE RESULTS
Incumbent Jim Parks and newcomer Dan McCormick appear to have won seats on the Fripp Island Public Service District, in the only other contested countywide race.
Parks retained his seat with 230 votes, according to unofficial returns. McCormick beat incumbent Patrick Reilly by four votes for the second available seat on the six-member nonpartisan board, which sets utility rates and tax levies to fund the district's operations.
Luke Inabinett and Don Sanders won spots on the Beaufort County Soil and Water Conservation District. They were the only candidates for the two seats on the nonpartisan environmental and agricultural board.
Other county offices went to unopposed Republican candidates, including new Auditor Jim Beckert, new Treasurer Maria Walls and incumbents Sheriff P.J. Tanner and Probate Judge Kenneth Fulp Jr.
Follow reporter Zach Murdock at twitter.com/IPBG_Zach.
- 5 questions awaiting answers on Election Day, Nov. 2, 2014
- Von Harten, Howard bring public service backgrounds to County Council race, Oct. 21, 2014