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Swansea mayoral race headed to a runoff as neither of top two candidates receive 50%

Swansea, SC 11/02/2021 (Paul Kirby) – The Town of Swansea, SC’s Municipal Election Tuesday was more than a vote, in many ways, it was a referendum on where most of the town’s citizens wanted things to go in the future. For years, the town has been mired in one scandal after another, often short on cash despite providing minimal services to its residents. Several times over the past decades, the town has found itself in serious debt to the state despite the appearance of having enough cash flow to operate without running up large bills to any entity.


Tuesday, the people had an opportunity to choose a new mayor after the last one was indicted and the suspended for misusing town funds for his own advantage. He is awaiting trial. There were four candidates running.


One was local businessman Mike Luongo, a current member of the town’s council. He was one of the councils members that was instrumental in demanding a look at the town’s financial records that eventually brought about a SLED investigation. That investigation took down former Mayor Jerald Sanders.


Secondly, Hunter Hackett, a longtime resident of the town, who is a mature 21-years-old, was also running. This was Hackett’s first run for political office although he has held many appointed and elected leadership positions with the Swansea High School’s JROTC program and the Order of the Arrow, a service organization affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America.

Former Mayor Ray Spires also ran. Spires served the town for many years, and although there were always questions regarding the town's finances and operation when he was mayor, Spires closely guarded Swansea’s financial records from other elected officials and the people of the town as well, he apparently felt he had more to offer the town’s citizens.


The last of the four was Viola Frances McDaniel. She is a long-term SC DHEC employee who is now retired. She had no previous political experience.


In order to be the clear winner, one candidate needed to garner 50% plus one of the votes cast. Because of the large number running, that did not happen. When all the ballots were cast and counted, McDaniel had received 101 votes which was approximately 49% of the votes cast. Luongo gathered 72 votes for a total of about 35% percent of the total votes.


This means that in two weeks, people will return to the polls again to vote in a runoff election. What is unclear is whether the voters who marked their ballots for Hackett, a total of 25, and the few who voted for Spires, 9, will all swing their support behind McDaniel or Luongo. If almost all of them vote for Luongo instead of McDaniel, that would put him ahead of her and he could be declared the winner. If not, McDaniel would be elected to her first position as the mayor of Swansea.


The issue with runoffs is that it is often hard to get people to turnout to vote a second time. Both candidates will have to work hard to muster their supporters in order to take home the win. Until the date of that election, both McDaniel and Luongo will need to do everything in their power to ensure that their supporters, plus the supporters of Hackett and Spires, and anyone who stayed home today and did not vote, make it to the polls in the runoff to cast their votes.


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