Ballot will consist mostly of unopposed candidates

Without an opponent on next week's ballot, Andy Patrick figures to coast to victory as Hilton Head Island's representative in the S.C. House.

Tuesday's vote should be considerably less nerve-racking than June's Republican primary for Patrick, a political newcomer who won a runoff against incumbent Rep. Richard Chalk to settle a competitive, three-way battle for the party's nomination in District 123.

"I'm not going to lie to you," Patrick said Monday. "It's a good feeling."

Election Day should be similarly easy for many other candidates on Tuesday's ballot who join Patrick in running unopposed.

In fact, it's quicker to list the three Beaufort County positions that have competition -- treasurer and two school board seats -- than the 17 that don't.

Voters will find a lone candidate for probate judge, sheriff, auditor, seven County Council seats, four seats on the Board of Education and two seats on the Soil and Water Conservation District's board.

The same is true for each of the area's five House seats.

One race, for school board District 2, will have no candidate on the ballot. Julie Bell, the only person who filed for the seat, did not present enough valid signatures to make the ballot, although she hopes to win as a write-in candidate. Rita Hart also is running as a write-in candidate.

Scott Marshall, executive director of the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections, says no one in his office can recall the last time a race in the county failed to draw a single candidate on the ballot.

Marshall said a more crowded field of would-be officeholders would probably be better for democracy.

"I think it's healthy for the process if we would have more competition," he said. "To that end, it's disappointing to see the ballot so empty."

Even though victory is almost certainly assured, Patrick said he isn't relaxing too much.

Rather than spending much time campaigning, he's studying issues he expects to face during his first term in Columbia, he said. They include the future of the PGA Tour's Heritage golf tournament, the state's education funding system and setback lines that could affect coastal development.

"It's been nice because I've been able to focus on some of those tough issues," Patrick said.

When he speaks to groups and individual constituents, he emphasizes the importance of voters heading to the polls and tuning into other races, he said.

He is not actively fundraising, but he continues to receive contributions, which he said he will keep on hand.

He has not yet decided what he will do as results roll in Tuesday night, but he said he will probably spend most of the evening at home.

List of local candidates running unopposed on Beaufort County ballots:

S.C. House District 118: Bill Herbkersman (R)

S.C. House District 121: Kenneth F. Hodges (D)

S.C. House District 122: Curtis Brantley (D)

S.C. House District 123: Andy Patrick (R)

S.C. House District 124: Shannon Erickson (R)

Sheriff: P.J. Tanner (R)

Probate Judge: Francis M. Frank Simon (R)

County Auditor: Sharon Burris (R)

County Council District 1: Rick Caporale (R)

County Council District 2: Steven M. Baer (R)

County Council District 3: Stu Rodman (R)

County Council District 4: Weston Newton (R)

County Council District 7: D. Paul Sommerville (R)

County Council District 10: Jerry Stewart (R)

County Council District 11: Laura Von Harten (D)

School Board District 1: Steven P. Morello

School Board District 8: Herbert Burnes Jr.

School Board District 9: Ronald Speaks

School Board District 11: Fred Washington Jr.

Soil and Water Conservation District (vote for two): Ross M. Sanders Jr. and Luke Inabinett

Hilton Head No. 1 Public Service District - Sub-district 1: Herbert Ford

Hilton Head No. 1 Public Service District - Sub-district 3B: Bob Gentzler

Hilton Head No. 1 Public Service District - Sub-district 4A: Frank Drehwing

Source: Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections