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Chapin town council member Baines resigns

Chapin, SC (Paul Kirby) – Chapin town councilman Preston Baines has resigned effective immediately. In an e-mail sent to Mayor David Knight, Baines made the resignation officials.

In that e-mail that all council members were copied in, Baines said, “It is with great sadness that this statement will serve as my official resignation from Chapin Town Council, effective immediately.

I have the opportunity to fulfill a life-long dream of living on Lake Murray, and I am taking the opportunity. My new, permanent residence will result in my address being outside of the incorporated limits of the town of Chapin. It is not feasible for me to maintain homes at two different locations.

Although the time has been brief, it has been an honor to serve the people of Chapin and work alongside our elected body and town staff. I will continue to be involved in our community just as I was prior to being elected to council.”

In a second e-mail that came out later on Wednesday evening, Baines added the following paragraph. "To those who have worked tirelessly to support me and our vision, I sincerely apologize. An opinion from the Attorney General’s office makes it clear that I am no longer eligible to serve. My biggest regret is that I may have let down the fine people of Chapin. This was not in my plans when I ran for office, but sometimes God sends us in a different direction. God bless and please contact me if I can ever be of service."

Over the past week, other elected officials including the mayor had been publicly questioning whether Baines had been living in the town since he was elected. He had refused to have his council packages delivered to his home address by town officials as other members usually do. Instead, he would pick those up at the town hall or have them brought to his work. On his latest ethics filings, he also listed a post office box as his official address, something that an ethics lawyer we consulted said was improper. Just before he was elected in November, the only public utility that he had in his name, the sewer service at a home in town, was taken out of his name. Mayor Knight, other council members, and even members of the public had begun to ask whether he was actually living in the town at all. As pressure mounted on the town to fully investigate where his residence was in order to prevent the notion that they were being complacent if he was somehow misleading Chapin, he sent the e-mail of resignation.

Baines ran in the town’s election in November of 2017 and was sworn in during an official ceremony in January. Since that date, he has participated in the town’s meeting, voted on issues, and participated as he could in town functions. He is an employee of GIS in Chapin. A special election will have to be scheduled to fill his seat. That date will be set based on town ordinances that govern their elections.

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