Filing opens for Hilton Head elections -- candidates enter races for council, mayor

It's official -- longtime Hilton Head Island Town Councilman Bill Ferguson is a candidate for mayor.

Ferguson, 62, who represents Ward 1, filed Monday at Town Hall to try to succeed Mayor Tom Peeples, who announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election after 15 years in office.

Monday was the first day candidates could file to run in the November general election. Candidates can file through Aug. 16 at Town Hall.

At least five other people have said they intend to run for mayor, but Ferguson was the only one to file Monday, according to town clerk Betsy Mosteller.

However, two people filed to run for the Town Council.

Palmetto Dunes resident Kim Likins is a candidate for Town Council Ward 4, which encompasses Folly Field, Forest Beach and Palmetto Dunes. The seat is held by John Safay, who has said he intends to run for mayor. Sea Pines resident Charles Raley will challenge incumbent George Williams for Town Council Ward 5.

Ferguson, a native islander, is in his 16th year on the Town Council. He would retain that seat if his bid to win the at-large mayors race fails, since his term does not expire this year.Ferguson said he is running because he believes working people and native islanders need better representation in decisions made by the Town Council. He said ongoing sewage, drainage and road problems are among concerns that are going unheard.

"I don't think we could continue living on Hilton Head Island on the conditions we are living under, where it is presumed it's an island of wealthy and rich folks," Ferguson said. "I want to change some mindsets and get the island involved in helping and assisting all people."

Likins runs local publishing company Island Friends, LLC, and was the first executive director of the Sandbox Children's Museum, according to a news release she issued Monday. This will be her first foray into politics.

"I have never considered myself politically motivated; however, I have always been community-service minded," she said Monday.

Likins, 49, has lived on the island for 16 years. She said the Town Council needs people with business experience and an entrepreneurial background to make creative, level-headed decisions and help redefine the community.

"Hilton Head is at a very pivotal time. We've reached capacity for growth and are looking at more redevelopment and revitalization. We need to try to balance that out with preserving the natural beauty of the community," she said, adding she is committed to keeping the tourism industry strong and enhancing the island's appeal to current and future residents.

Raley is a lawyer who represents businesses before the Federal Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. He was on the town's Board of Zoning and Appeals from 2003-09. The Washington, D.C., native has said he favors extending the airport's runway to accommodate corporate jets and more commercial service.