Politics & Government

Bluffton man drops out of town council race

Just weeks after saying he planned to improve the quality of law enforcement in the area, Nickey Maxey dropped out of the Bluffton Town Council race Friday, according to a prepared statement.

Maxey, a real estate agent with Engel and Volkers, told The Island Packet on Aug. 29 that he would make sweeping changes to the Bluffton Police Department and the way it handles drug-related offenses. A former Tennessee highway patrol officer, Maxey said there wasn’t enough proactive policing in local law enforcement. Friday, two weeks after lamenting the lack of quality officers in the area, Maxey said in a statement that he had the “utmost confidence in the leadership of the Bluffton Police Department” and was withdrawing from the town council race.

“My overarching reason for entering the race was to improve the law enforcement effectiveness in Bluffton, especially in the area of illegal drug use,” Maxey’s prepared statement said. “After meeting with Chief Christopher Chapmond and Town Manager Mark Orlando, I am pleased with the progress they have made in this area.”

A phone call and text seeking comment about his decision to drop out and his about-face on local law enforcement, Maxey texted that he was in a meeting.

Chapmond said Maxey congratulated him this week after Bluffton Town Council approved the Multi-jurisdictional Drug, Gang and Violent Crime Task Force between Bluffton Police and the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. The agreement allows officers from both law enforcement agencies to police crimes involving drugs, gangs and violence across jurisdictional lines. Maxey, who had previously said that local police wasn’t focused on drug enforcement, was not aware of the task force until recently, Chapmond said.

In his statement, Maxey said he was hopeful that the agreement between Bluffton Police and the Sheriff’s Office would curb the sale and use of drugs in Bluffton.

With Maxey dropping out, three candidates remain in the race for two open seats on town council. Newcomer Bridgette Frazier is challenging incumbents Harry Lutz and Dan Wood in the municipal election on Nov. 5. Mayor Lisa Sulka is running unopposed for her fourth term as mayor.

Maxey was the only candidate running a campaign that focused primarily on law enforcement reform. The major issues facing Bluffton, according to those running for office, include: uncontrolled residential and commercial growth, insufficient affordable housing, workforce shortages, overcrowded schools and concerns over water quality.

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The Growth and Development Reporter for the Island Packet, Kacen Bayless is a native of Ballwin, Missouri. In the past, he’s worked for St. Louis Magazine, the Columbia Missourian, KBIA and the Columbia Business Times. He graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism degree with an emphasis in Investigative Reporting from the University of Missouri in 2019.