Irmo, SC (Paul Kirby) – The voters of Irmo had the opportunity last week to decide who the last person would be to fill out their town’s council. A council seat had been open since former Mayor Hardy King was defeated by Councilmember Barry Walker in November of 2019. This left Walker’s seat open, which in turn forced the town to have a special election to fill the seat until that term expires a few years from now.
There were four candidates running for the council seat. They were Bill Danielson who received 270 votes, Barbara Waldman who 265 cast their votes, for Mike Ward who received 110 votes, and Art McLain who 10 people cast their ballots for. Since Irmo uses an at large, majority rules, non-partisan style election, Bill Danielson won the seat by 5 votes over Waldman. This makes him the last councilmember needed to finally bring the town’s government back to full strength.
Because citizens in the Town of Irmo chose many years ago to use South Carolina’s council form of government, they are like many other small towns in Lexington County. All members of the council, including the mayor, basically have the same power and privilege. In this form of government, each elected official gets one vote and the majority rules. Occasionally, the town council will pass ordinances that specifically bestow extra responsibilities and powers to the mayor of some other council member. For example, an ordinance could spell out who would sign the checks, contracts, or approve the agendas for meetings.
The town’s council can also, with a majority vote, to hand off certain powers and responsibilities to a hired town administrator. This is the case with Irmo. Some years ago, a council approved an ordinance that created an administrator’s position and specifically spells out what he or she may or should not do. This is much like the Council / Manager form of government used by cities and towns like Cayce and Batesburg-Leesville. The Council – Manager form of government is one that’s spelled out by state law whereas the Council – Administrator form is not.
Now that elections are over and the voters have made clear they’re ready for change with King’s ousting, 2020 could be a year of significant changes and opportunities. Mayor Walker has travelled to Washington D.C. this week to meet with government officials there that may be able to assist Irmo in finding grants of various types that would benefit the citizens in one way or another. He has promised a full report on what he learned and is available to the town when he returns.
Walker said before he left, “2020 is going to be a great year for Irmo! We are already working hard to ensure that we will do what I said while campaigning. We definitely want more recreational opportunities, continued excellence in public safety, complete transparency, and a great working relationship with other entities around us. More than anything, I think we’d also like to have a council that is cordial and effective, a council that gets things done for the people.”
Once Walker returns from his trip, he’s promised to have the editor of The Lexington Ledger travel across the Lake Murray Dam for a tour of the town. He’s said there would be any opportunity to talk more specifically about the benefits of the Washington trip, what Irmo is now, and what it can be in the future. Watch for updates on this in the coming weeks as the mayor returns and the new, full council gets to work.