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Today you can make a difference in your community when you Vote!

Lexington County, SC (Paul Kirby) Today, many of the citizens of Lexington County will have an opportunity to make their voices heard in a rudimentary way, they will be able to go to the polls and VOTE for the candidate of their choice for local office. In a number of municipalities in our county, there are many seats open that could fundamentally change the way that the governments work in those areas.

There are four mayor’s seats up for grabs today as well as a large number of council seats in towns spread across every corner of our region. Some of these races have been friendly, while others have gotten as nasty as any I can remember. Here are the highlights.

In the Town of Springdale first term Mayor Michael Bishop has no opposition. Bishop is energetic and hardworking. He strongly believes in term limits and says that he will not run for a third term. On his council, incumbents Juston Ricard, Jacob Wilkerson, and J. Kevin Reeley are all vying for another four years in their seats with just one challenger who has now withdrawn her name from contention you'll see the same people at the Springdale Town Hall for four more eyars. Sounds like a vote of confidence to me. .

In the Town of Batesburg-Leesville, retiring Mayor Rita Crapps’ seat is being sought by two members of Lexington School District Three’s Board of Trustees. They are Lancer Shull and Charles Simpkins. Both of these men seem to genuinely like each other, and both are adamant about seeing the small town retain its charm while continuing to grow in a planned, measured way. Both seem to be great candidates that support a ceratin vision for the area. This could go either way.

The Batesburg-Leesville Town Council will have an almost complete turnover because some serving members have moved out of town, some have resigned for other reasons, or decided to get out of politics. Here is the slate of new candidates:

Council District 1 - Linda DeLoach is unopposed

Council District 2 - Olin Gambrell, Tom Mims, Tripp Williamson (to fill vacancy)

Council District 3 - Stephen Cain, Gale Gibson

Council District 5 - Shirley Mitchell, Bob Penick

Council District 6 - Jim Mitchell, Tillman Gives (to fill vacancy)

Council District 7 - Nicholas Hallman, Jason Prouse

Council District 8 - Megan Hallman (to fill vacancy)

In the Town of Pine Ridge, Mayor David Busbee is running un-opposed again. He's been the mayor for more than 20 years and they must like the job he's doing. He rarely has any opposition.

There are two council seats that are up for grabs. One is the end of Floyd Dinkins’ four-year term, and he is running for another four-year term. The other was opened by a retirement. The candidates for these two seats are:

Floyd Dinkins – Incumbent

Rick Dinkins (Floyd Dinkins’ son)

Scott Simms

In the Town of Summit, two council seats are up for grabs. Both are seats that are already held by the people that are running simply for reelection. These are:

David Reese

Henry E. Hartley

The Town of Irmo’s Council has two incumbents vying for re-election in an at large election. This means that there are no districts, and anyone in the town who is registered to vote in Irmo may do so.

This has also been ugly on social media. Their town meetings can get long as fussing takes over in the open sessions. It seems as if several of the now sitting members just don't like or respect each other much. I sent a young writer to cover the meetings and he described them as "entertaining" as if he'd been to a wrestling match. Several candidates have taken to social media to argue, fuss, and air dirty laundry. I'm in my mid fifities, but I have learned that a scoaila media argument is never won, and you get more done sitting together reasoning through things face-to-face.

The incumbents who are coming to the end of their regular four-year terms are Barry Walker and Kathy Condom. They are both running for re-election. These are the people who are running for those seats as well:

Kathy Condom – Incumbent

Barry Walker – Incumbent

Kelly Busch

Brent Chitwood

Ed Wadelington

Robert Wessinger

In a quick rundown of the City of West Columbia elections, there are three seats that have opposition for council. The mayor’s seat is not up for grabs for two more years.

Council District One is held by incumbent Mike Green who won the seat last spring in a special election. Today your choices are:

West Columbia District One:

Mike Green – Incumbent

Pete Fisher

Virginia McGrady

West Columbia District Three:

Casey Jordan Hallman – Unopposed

West Columbia District Five:

Boyd Jones – Incumbent

Marland Hardy Mitchell

Mickey Pringle

Council District Seven (Opened by the retirement of Tommy Parlor):

Erin Porter

Richard Walker

Leslie Efron Platt

In the Town of Gilbert, two are vying for open council seats. They are:

John D. Reeder

Louise Taylor

In the Town of Pelion, Frank Shumpert is running unopposed for mayor.

There is one council seat open and one running for reelection. The candidates for these are:

Starr Hartley Corley

Larry Sossman

Here are the two towns that seemed to have had the most passion, contention, and anger in the races. They are the mayor and council races for the town of Chapin in the northwestern corner of the county, and the town of Swansea in the southeastern corner.

In the Town of Chapin, Mayor Skip Wilson is vying for reelection after his first four years in office. He is being challenged by Shayla Flores and former town attorney David Knight.

This is one of the nastiest races I’ve ever witnessed in local politics. There’s been name calling, mudslinging, and enough ill will to sink several ships. Much of this has been hashed out on social media and I can’t find a time when all three of the candidates have faced off in a room together to have an open and honest dialogue about their differences. There was a candidate’s forum, put on by the Woman’s Club that was nice, and a debate that was sponsored by Steve Wall at the Tipsy Toad and The Lexington Ledger, but never have all three just sat down and talked face-to-face as far as I know. That's really sad because all three probably could contribute.

This seems to be old Chapin, led by former Mayor Stan Shealy who served for 32 years, and the "new" Chapin in Wilson and Flores. Shealy has been running Knight's campaign and several people have said that if Knight is elected mayor, Knight said he would put Shealy in charge of the town again. He's made no effort to hide or deny that statement so I would have to say that Knight has my respect for standing behind what he said. If he didn't say it, he can call me and I will immediatley give him the name and phone number of the people who told me he said it. I can be reached at (803) 587-3144. I make no judgement as to if that's a good or bad move because I really haven't been in Chapin much in like the last oh 30 years or so.

The issues in the election are growth, traffic, planning, public amenities, and quality of life. It really seems like the issues are that the older crowd just wants things to go back to the way they were four years ago and the newer crowd is ready to get on with business in what they say is a new and improved way. I could be wrong, but that seems to be the gist of the matter.

In all honesty, there is a lot of hate in this race. Hate is a strong word and I use it carefully. It appears as if there are some people in the town who just hate Skip Wilson. If you ask why you get answers as varied as the stars. There have been folks who’ve said he talked about their mommas, I kid you not, to others who sling accusations that he’s running a secret set of books. It goes on and on believe me. When I asked for some to come and show me what all's been happening, they told me to read it on Facebook, like that makes it true. Others have said it's all in The State paper, certainly a source for unbiased news I'm sure, and others who've just stopped contacting me. No one has showed me proof of anything on Skip, Shayla, or David, NO ONE on ANYONE! Just talk it seems.

I leased an office from Wilson in Chapin and suddenly I am a “Skippy,” a term used to describe a Wilson supporter. I held a debate between Flores and Wilson and I was accused of rigging it. Not by Flores and her supporters, but by the candidate’s campaign that didn’t attend. Throughout the debate, Mayor Wilson said over and over again that he strongly supports a Hospitality Tax be implemented for the town. To most candidates running against him this would be a gift from heaven served by me to them on a silver platter.. A Lexington County politician supporting a new tax; the horror of it all! Yet even after I videoed this and put it on The Ledger word-for-word, they haters still criticized me. It’s all a little confusing.

After today, whoever is the mayor of Chapin should do his/her best to bring all people together to do a little healing. Hate burns and smolders. Whoever has participated in all the nastiness should be ashamed. I know a lot of you well and that wasn’t how you were raised.

Your choices in Chapin today for mayor are:

Skip Wilson

David Knight

Shayla Flores

There are two council seats up for grabs, three candidates running are:

Al Koon

Joe Dever

Preston Baines

All seem smart, all appear to be well educated, and all talk about the same issues. Sadly, here too, the personalities and agendas seemed to have split the town. Without it ever being officially said, two of the candidates have somehow become aligned with one of the three mayoral candidates. I’m not sure they even chose to do this, people may have just pigeonholed them that way. I hope whoever wins can work with the others and be a mature adult about the issues and stop the ugliness and fighting. One quick tip, give up Facebook, it’s not a place to air issues or dirty laundry.

In Swansea, wow! All types of accusations have been thrown, mostly at the long-term Mayor Ray Spires deserved or not, who knows. Michael Luongo, a political newcomer is running against Spires as is Councilmember Jerald Sanders. It’s hard to say how things will end up here. If Spires loses, I foresee a long process of looking at all the business of the town during his tenure. That doesn’t mean he’s done anything wrong, it simply means that if I were him, I’d want my name cleared. If I had run and un-seated him, I'd want all the books inspected before I got started.; sort of an inventory if you will. If a hard look at everything comes out and makes him look bad, so be it as well!

There are two council seats open, but only the incumbents are running. In those cases, Linda Butler is an incumbent and Woodrow Davis, Jr., also an incumbent, is running for reelection.

The only sure thing is that tomorrow, the small towns of Lexington County could look a lot different. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Please do your duty and vote.

We will run the results of today's elections as soon as we receive them after the polls close.

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Call Paul Kirby

(803) 587-3144