Wise wins, class and civility reign in District 6 runoff

Paul Wise and opponent Chris Derrick visit after Tuesday’s Town Council runoff results were posted.

The unofficial results of Tuesday’s Batesburg-Leesville Town Council runoff election for District 6 were already in focus, and Paul Wise was the new Councilman-elect, apparently by a wide margin.

Still, Mr. Wise and his election rival Chris Derrick stood in the lobby of the Batesburg-Leesville Leisure Center — which served as the Batesburg and Mims precincts — smiling and chatting with a light, comfortable conviviality akin to old friends reconnecting after a long absence. The classiest race of the 2019 election season was in the books, and both contenders were behaving like winners, men of honor, dignity and respect who love their shared community.

“It ain’t all about fussing and fighting,” Mr. Derrick said, having just heartily embraced his election opponent and promised to help the newly-elected Councilman in any way he can. “It’s about working together. Whatever’s on the table, let’s get it done.”

The general election two weeks ago, a three-way contest, ended without either man receiving 50 percent of the vote plus one. That forced the runoff. On Tuesday, Mr. Wise prevailed by a 73-23 margin unofficially, not counting any absentee ballots on-file at the Lexington County Registration & Elections Office.

Mr. Derrick actually carried the Leesville precinct, 16 votes to 14, and the Batesburg precinct narrowly went to Mr. Wise only by four votes. It was the Mims precinct, where Mr. Wise commanded 52 votes to Mr. Derrick’s 4, that swung the final decision.

“I want to thank all the voters of District 6 who came out and voted for me in this election,” Mr. Wise said. “I’m eager to listen to them and work hard for them, and I am eager to work collaboratively with all the other Council members to make big decisions for beautiful Batesburg-Leesville.”

Mr. Wise had run on creating equal opportunity for growth and prosperity to both the Batesburg and Leesville communities, in a town where the Batesburg district is in dire need of revitalization to catch up with the economic vibrancy of the Leesville downtown district.

“Batesburg-Leesville has a lot of opportunities here, and we’re going to make it a better place,” he said. “Right now, I want to learn all I can about the Council and really get out and look at District 6. I spent two months campaigning and had a chance to ride around this District, and I’ve already seen things that can be improved on. I’m going to speak up for all the people of this District.”

Meanwhile, advocates of unity and community togetherness, of making Batesburg-Leesville an even better place to live, likely have not heard the last of Chris Derrick.

“Like I have said to Paul, if I can be of any help, not only in District 6 but in the community, I’ll be glad to work with him,” Mr. Derrick said. “I want to help take care of the people of District 6 and this community.”

Story by Tony Baughman / Published November 19, 2019