By Ruben Lowman
North Myrtle Beach residents have gotten used to seeing more and more campaign signs around the city as time has passed, but this year saw a noticeable uptick. With the mayor and three council seats up for election, there was good reason.
On Tuesday, Nov. 4, voters turned out in good numbers, even with the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic keeping some away from the polls, with a few precincts having lines outside the front door at times. This year was a hard-fought election from all sides, and the unofficial results for each race are listed below.
In short, North Myrtle Beach voters re-elected the three incumbents, including Mayor Marilyn Hatley and Councilmembers Nikki Fontana and Trey Skidmore. Bubba Collins won the council seat that was open after Terry White, who had previously held the seat for 29 years, retired.
Mayor Hatley won her sixth term, beating challenger Wayne Troutman, with a total of 3,532 votes to Troutman’s 1,478. Hatley, who has served the city of North Myrtle Beach as mayor since 2001, received over 70 percent of the votes.
Incumbent Fontana, who was first elected in 2013, will serve another term on the city council representing Windy Hill after beating her challenger, Jolene Puffer, in the closest race of the four this year. Fontana received 2,496 votes to Puffer’s 2,117, with Fontana garnering around 54 percent of the total votes.
For the one at-large race up for election this year, incumbent Skidmore beat challenger Bill Davis, receiving over 70 percent of the total votes. Skidmore, who first won his seat earlier this year after former councilmember Bob Cavanaugh stepped down to relocate to Virginia, received 3,375 votes to Davis’ 1,394.
In the race for the open Ocean Drive seat that was vacated by former councilmember White this year, Collins beat Norfleet Jones. Collins received 3,007 votes to Jones’ 1,794, which was around 62 percent of the total votes cast.
The mayor and city councilmembers of North Myrtle Beach serve four-year terms, meaning each seat won this week will be up for re-election in November 2025. The mayor receives $52,402.93 in annual compensation, with councilmembers being paid $26,285.31 each year.
The Towns of Atlantic Beach and Briaricliffe Acres, which border North Myrtle Beach, both had two council seats up for election this year, with both candidates for each municipality running unopposed. Atlantic Beach Town Councilmembers Jim DeWitt and Edward Lamar Campbell will be serving the municipality. Councilmembers for Atlantic Beach get paid $4,800 each year with members serving four-year terms and elected at-large.
Briarcliffe Acres Town Councilmembers Brian Palliser and Laura Pendley, both incumbents, will retain their seats. Members of the town council are elected at-large, serve four-year terms and receive no compensation for serving.
In Myrtle Beach incumbent Mayor Brenda Bethune was up against four challengers this year. Bethune won with nearly 56 percent of the votes, receiving 3,289 votes in total. Challengers Gene Ho and Bill McClure received 1,155 and 1,153 votes respectively, with each garnering around 20 percent of the overall votes. The mayor of Myrtle Beach serves a four-year term and is elected at-large, receiving $50,000 in annual compensation along with a $500 monthly car allowance.
Myrtle Beach City Council, which is elected at-large with members serving the entire city, had five candidates running for three seats. The incumbents Mike Lowder (3,847), Jackie Hatley (3,501) and Gregg Smith (3,333) all retained their seats, garnering around 25 percent of the total votes each. Myrtle Beach City Councilmembers serve four-year terms and earn $15,000 per year as well as a $495 monthly car allowance.
All election results above are unofficial until being certified by their respective municipality’s election commission. The North Myrtle Beach Municipal Election Commission will meet at City Hall at 10 a.m. today, Nov. 4, to certify the above results and determine the validity of any ballots challenged in this election.