The race for the District 6 seat on Batesburg-Leesville Town Council will be the most active of the four seats in play during this year’s general election, as three candidates have filed to run for the spot currently held by Councilwoman Susan Whittle.
Councilwoman Whittle has opted not to offer for re-election, after serving less than a year to fill the unexpired term of former Councilman Jim Mitchell. She was elected to her seat in December 2018 in a runoff, after an earlier special election ended with neither candidate gathering a majority of votes.
“There are few things that I have enjoyed as much as the time I have been honored to serve as council member for District 6,” Councilwoman Whittle said, confirming her decision not to run. “Council positions need to be filled by those who can serve the entire four years. The constant turnover does not create a cohesive council.”
Councilwoman Whittle’s husband passed away unexpectedly last year and with that, she said, “I do not feel that I can commit to a four-year term. I will work diligently until my term is over and will do what I can to help the new candidates learn the issues of District 6 and of our Town.”
Filing for the municipal elections closed last Friday, Aug. 30 at noon. Once the dust settled, Christopher Derrick, a resident of Hampton Terrace in Batesburg-Leesville; Twonna Williamson of Pinewood Drive; and Paul Wise of Cottontail Lane had filed their Statements of Intent to run for the District 6 seat.
Two of the other Town Council seats on the November ballot also will be contested.
In the District 4 race, incumbent Councilman Charles Simpkins, who lists his address as Rawls Drive and currently serves as Mayor Pro Tem, has been challenged by Johnnie Mae Speach-Lemon, a resident of Barr Street in Leesville.
In the District 8 slot, Olin Eric Gambrell IV, a resident of Blanding Street in Batesburg-Leesville who serves as assistant principal at Batesburg-Leesville High School, will face off against Bob D. Hall, a resident of Highland Avenue in Batesburg and a frequent attendee at Town Council meetings.
Incumbent Councilman and past Town Manager Olin Gambrell III will run unopposed to retain his District 2 seat.
The details of each candidate who has filed so far, including copies of each candidate’s Statement of Intent, are searchable under the “Candidates” link on the State Election Commission website, www.scvotes.org. Derrick, Gambrell III, Gambrell IV, Hall, Speach-Lemon, Williamson and Wise also have filed the required Statement of Economic Interests with the South Carolina Ethics Commission.
The state Ethics Commission requires all candidates and elected officials to file documents naming their sources of income and disclosing any financial interests that might be relevant to their public service. These mandatory Ethics Commission filings are a matter of public record and are available for closer examination at www.ethics.sc.gov.
Story by Tony Baughman / Updated August 30, 2019