Batesburg-Leesville, SC (Paul Kirby) – The Town of Batesburg-Leesville ousted one councilmember that had served multiple terms, reelected an incumbent who was unopposed, and filled two open town council seats during Tuesday’s election. In one of the open district’s seat, the incumbent didn’t file to run again. In another case, the district's seat was vacant.
Mayor Pro Tem Charles Simpkins was defeated by Johnnie Mae Speach-Lemon for the District 4 council seat. Simpkins was first elected to represent that district in 1999. He was re-elected to his 5th term in 2015. A 23-vote margin separated the two.
Speech-Lemon grew up in Batesburg-Leesville. She lives on Barr Street in the Leesville section of the town. She is a member of the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, a church that will celebrate its 141st anniversary this weekend. She sings in the church choir there.
In Town Council District 2, Olin Gambrell ran unopposed for a seat he's held for several years. He still received 73 ballots cast in his name. He was the town’s manager when the two “twin cities” were combined into one a number of years ago.
In Council District 6, Paul Wise defeated Twonna Williamson and Chris Derrick to claim that seat. Wise received 56 votes while Derrick had 37 ballots cast in his favor. Williamson received a respectable 27 votes of the 120 votes cast in that district’s race.