By Ruben Lowman
The primary elections for Horry County Council District 9 and Horry County Auditor were close enough last week to necessitate a runoff between the top two candidates in each race. Mark Causey and Terry Fowler will compete for the District 9 council seat, while R.A. Johnson and Beth Calhoun will vie to be the next county auditor.
Both individuals who currently hold these seats are retiring after long and illustrious careers serving the public from these positions.
Paul Prince is retiring after nearly two decades as the district’s councilman and hoped to pass the baton to his son, Rome Prince, who was running for the seat this year alongside Causey and Fowler but failed to garner enough votes to make the runoff. Lois Eargle, the county auditor since 1993, is relinquishing her position and hopes to see R.A. Johnson elected as her replacement. Both races will go to a special runoff election held next Tuesday, June 23.
The race for the Horry County Council District 9 seat, which includes much of Loris and Conway, is now a battle between a real estate agent, Causey, and a retired police officer, Fowler. They were separated by less than 300 votes last Tuesday, Causey receiving 1,343 and Fowler finishing with 1,071.
Causey has centered his platform around the slogan, “Common Sense for Common Goals”, and his key issues of development, flooding, roads and public safety. He previously served for five years on the Horry County Planning Commission and is currently on the County Transportation Committee, and feels this experience gives him the edge.
Fowler has been an Horry County police officer for 15 years in District 9, and feels his time in law enforcement has prepared him for office. He has made flood mitigation, strengthening benefits for first responders and infrastructure projects the focus of his campaign.
Causey and Fowler will now hope to best the other and take the seat vacated by the departing Prince.
The three-way battle for county auditor was whittled down to two at the polls last week, after Myrtle Beach accountant Clark Parker failed to receive the votes needed to continue his run for office.
Calhoun received the most votes (14,010) but only by a small margin over Johnson (12,354). Calhoun, the assistant deputy auditor, has almost 20 years experience in the auditor’s office and feels that firsthand knowledge gives her the advantage in the race.
Johnson, on the other hand, is the deputy treasurer to Angie Jones and has made modernizing the tax process his key policy pillar. He believes his work helping Jones streamline the treasurer’s office has given him the expertise required to make the improvements necessary to move the position of auditor forward and keep up with advancements in technology.
He and Calhoun now look to voters next Tuesday to decide which one of them will be elected.
State politicians representing North Myrtle Beach and Little River, Sen. Greg Hembree and Rep. William Bailey, both ran unopposed in the Republican primary and will not face competition in the general election come November.
There has been contention within the county over the election results in other more seemingly-straightforward races held last Tuesday, as well. Along with complaints from the Myrtle Beach and Socastee area about incorrect ballots being distributed to voters, a few candidates expressed interest in filing protests with the state party’s executive committee.
Carter Smith, running for State Senate District 33 against incumbent Luke Rankin, has said there were irregularities with the voting process and has officially filed a protest. District 33 stretches all the way up to Briarcliffe Acres. Rankin was already facing a runoff election against challenger John Gallman and will now have to deal with the protest from Smith, as well. On Tuesday, Gallman faced allegations of domestic abuse that could affect the outcome of the race.
Angie Altman-Robbins, who ran for County Clerk of Court against incumbent Renee Elvis and lost by over 10,000 votes, was debating filing a protest but decided against it this week.
The primary runoff election will take place next Tuesday, June 23. Remember to vote in order to have your voice heard and maintain social distancing while doing so.