At the final forum before Bluffton's Town Council runoff election next week, all three candidates stressed the importance of unity between Old Town and the rest of Bluffton.
The forum on Saturday afternoon -- which included incumbent Ted Huffman, Harry Lutz and Dan Wood -- was held in Hampton Hall, a gated community off Buckwalter Parkway.
Of the three candidate forums, Saturday's was the only one held outside of the town's historic district.
Lutz, a Hampton Hall resident and the only remaining candidate who lives outside of Old Town, said the Town Council needs to "support the whole 54 miles (that make up the town), not just the one square mile (of Old Town)."
Town leaders "need to focus on combining the Old Town with the new town as Bluffton continues to grow," he said. "We have to unite, and we have to make it all one Bluffton."
Huffman said "there are different priorities" in terms of council policy decisions in gated communities like Hampton Hall, which are mainly governed by development agreements.
But, "there is always room for improvement" in terms of increased attention from the council on areas outside the town's historic core, he said.
Wood cited several examples of recent initiatives to improve the town's outlying areas, such a the new Bluffton Police Department headquarters.
"I think it is a misnomer that (public) money isn't being spent (outside of Old Town), because it is (being spent)," he said.
But Wood said the council should push for the creation of more parks and recreation areas in the newer parts of Bluffton that are experiencing "a tremendous amount of growth."
Communities like Hampton Hall could play a major role in deciding the outcome of the Tuesday runoff.
A strong turnout in the general election from voting District 4D, which is several miles west of Old Town and encompasses much of the Hampton Hall area, propelled Lutz into the runoff.
Lutz won more than 47 percent of the vote there, compared to less than 34 percent for Wood and Huffman combined.
Lutz called for continued support from voters in the outlying areas of town Saturday.
"This is my backyard," he said.
Follow reporter Lucas High on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Lucas.
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