Bizarre Beaufort County Council meeting: Who will be new county administrator?
This story was updated at 3:30 p.m.
Beaufort County voters took to the polls Tuesday to elect three new members to Beaufort County Council.
With three contested council races for the first time in recent memory, the possibility existed that Democrats could have shifted the 9-2 Republican makeup of the council closer to the middle.
Four Republicans, including three incumbents, ran unopposed.
Unofficial results as of 6:45 a.m. Wednesday, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, show:
- District 8: Republican Chris Hervochon won with 63.55 percent of the vote to Democrat Brenda Brandt’s 36.42 percent.
- District 9: Republican Mark Lawson won with 58.76 percent of the vote. Democrat Mark McGinnis trailed with 41.13 percent of the vote.
- District 10: Republican Lawrence McElynn defeated Democrat Cathy McClellan. The former chief magistrate judge for Beaufort County garnered 54.71 percent of the vote. McClellan received 45.20 percent.
District 8, 9 and 10 all had incumbents who declined to run for re-election, paving the way for a new-look council.
Voters on Tuesday, however, opted not to shift the balance of power toward the political center.
District 8 Councilman-elect Hervochon said Wednesday he was “very, very grateful” to have had support. He said he knows that change has to be brought to council.
“The biggest issue is the county administrator,” he said. “How we go about identifying who that will be has to change from the other two searches, especially the last one. The last one was really not a good one. Quite frankly, we need to do better.”
District 9 winner Mark Lawson, in line with his fellow victors, said Wednesday the main issue this council needs to solve is the county administrator vacancy.
“I think we need to learn from the past and work together,” he said. “We’re here to represent the people. We need to do what’s best for them and not for ourselves.”
District 10 Councilman-elect McElynn said Wednesday that cohesion between the regions of the county — north and south of the Broad River — is essential to a successful council.
“There’s four new people on council, and those four are all south of the Broad (River),” he said. “We’ll have to join Mike Covert, Stu Rodman and the other five north of the Broad to move forward as a county versus the region. I’m not sure if that’s how it’s been conducted in the past, but I’m sure the discussion with the new members will bear all that in mind.”
Districts 8, 9 and 10 all featured both Democrat and Republican candidates, a stark contrast to the 2016 elections, when only one of four races was contested by both parties. Not only was the competition steeper than usual, but turnover was higher, with four council seats changing hands.
With Rick Caporale, Tabor Vaux and Steve Fobes departing, new faces will take their places. In District 8, which occupies the Bluffton-Hilton Head Island boundary, Hervochon will fill Caporale’s seat.
District 9 will see Lawson represent Old Town Bluffton, Palmetto Bluff and Daufuskie Island.
McElynn will serve District 10, which encompasses north and central areas of Hilton Head Island.
None of the contested races affected incumbents seeking re-election. District 2’s Paul Sommerville, District 4’s Alice Howard and District 11’s Stu Rodman all ran unopposed and will retain their seats.
Additionally, Joe Passiment will be a new face for District 6, but he faced no competition on Election Day and was a lock for the seat being vacated by three-term Councilman Jerry Stewart. Passiment and the three incumbents are all registered Republicans.
The only Democrats currently on council are Gerald Dawson in District 1, which includes Burton, Sheldon and Seabrook, and York Glover in District 3, which mostly consists of St. Helena Island.