The revolving door to the Council chambers at Batesburg-Leesville Town Hall is set to swing open again for four lucky winners.
Four seats on Town Council are slated to be on the ballot for November’s general election, and filing for candidates opens Friday, August 16 at noon. Coming up for election this fall are Council seats currently held by Olin Gambrell (District 2), the Reverend Charles Simpkins (District 4) and Susan Whittle (District 6). The vacant District 8 seat also is in play come November.
Mr. Gambrell confirmed that he will, in fact, offer for re-election. “The council still has a long way to go on working together. We need to continue to address the needs of the town and how to work together,” he said.
Ms. Whittle also said she intentions to run for re-election. “My two highest priorities are to review and help make a decision from the upcoming Water Alternative Study and to review and help make a decision on the most efficient way to use the Hospitality Tax funds,” she said. “There are many, many other projects, such as cleaning up our town and community safety; however, I think many of these can fall under the efficient use of the Hospitality Tax funds.”
The Rev. Simpkins did not respond to an e-mail asking whether he will offer for re-election this term.
Prospective members of Council will have just two weeks to collect valid signatures from five percent of the registered voters in their respective districts and file completed petitions with the Lexington County Voter Registration and Elections Office by noon on Friday, August 30.
Blank candidate petitions are available from the elections office or online at scvotes.org. There is no filing fee for Town Council candidates. Council elections are non-partisan; no party affiliations will be listed on the ballot.
District 2 requirements
Prospective candidates in District 2 will need to collect 40 verifiable signatures to get on the ballot. District 2 encompasses the easternmost edge of the municipality, from Highway 245 across the eastern half of Leesville’s historic downtown – Main Street is the dividing line between Districts 2 and 4 – and past the fork at Highway 23 and US Highway 1. The district extends farther out to a large wedge of open land surrounding the industrial park.
Mr. Gambrell has represented District 2 since winning a special election in November 2017 to fill the unexpired term of former Councilman Todd O’Odell, who resigned in June 2017. Previously, Mr. Gambrell had served as the first Town Manager of the consolidated municipality in 1992.
District 4 requirements
In District 4, prospective candidates must collect 30 signatures. District 4 blankets the southern half of the Leesville community (which is bisected by US Highway 1), including the historic downtown area west of the Main Street boundary shared with District 2, and includes a large swath of open land where the Batesburg-Leesville elementary and middle schools stand.
Rev. Simpkins was first elected to Council in 1999 and currently serves as Mayor Pro-Tem. In 2015, he was re-elected to his fifth term serving District 4; in 2017, he mounted an unsuccessful run for mayor in 2017 but lost to Lancer Shull by 74 votes.
District 6 requirements
Prospective candidates in District 6 must collect 35 signatures. District 6 is a horseshoe-shaped district lying south of US Highway 1 bordered by Bedenbaugh Street to the east and Charleston Avenue to the west, extending south to Town Pond Road and wrapping around a large patch of undeveloped and non-annexed land that includes the Batesburg Reservoir and open acreage along Shealy Road.
Ms. Whittle has served District 6 on Council since last December, when she won a special election – the second of two elections staged one week apart, after neither she nor her opponent Emily Long won a majority in the first balloting. She was seated to fill the unexpired term of former Councilman Jim Mitchell, who resigned in August 2018 when he moved out of district. Mr. Mitchell had served only 10 months on Council, having won a special election in late 2017 to fill the seat vacated by former Council member Chip Spradley earlier in 2017.
District 8 requirements
In District 8, prospective candidates need to collect just 25 signatures to get on the November ballot. The seat has been vacant since May, after former Councilwoman Megan Hall stepped down. She had served District 8 only since November 2017, when she ran unopposed to fill the vacancy left when Councilman Jim Wiszowaty resigned.
District 8 covers the largest land area within the municipal limits and is bordered by Highway 245 on the east, US Highway 1 on the south, and North Carolina Avenue and Line Street to the west. The district extends north to Gin Branch, dips a tiny triangle west into Saluda County and includes no fewer than four small “doughnut holes” – patches of non-annexed land completely surrounded by property within the official municipal borders and served by the Town.
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Town Council candidates who mount successful campaigns and win in November will be paid $500 per month beginning in December. Last month, the current Council approved an ordinance reinstating compensation for its members, which had been discontinued in 2017. By state law, it cannot take effect until after the upcoming election.
More information on the upcoming municipal elections is available by contacting the Lexington County Elections Office at 803.785.8361.
Story by Tony Baughman / Updated August 6, 2019