Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Georgetown Mayor Jack Scoville has asked his opponent to denounce statements made in a flier that was mailed to voters in the city last week.
Scoville, a Democrat, faces Republican Richard Powers in the Nov. 5 election.
There are three expiring City Council seats that will also be on the ballot. Democrat incumbents Brendon Barber, Jeanette Ard and newcomer Doris Simmons will face Republican incumbent Paige Sawyer and newcomers Carol Jayroe and Ed Kimbrough.
A group calling itself “Progress for Georgetown” sent out a mailer last week indicating the group represents the four Republicans.
Sawyer said he had no idea his name was included on the flier until he received his in the mail.
“It would have been nice to have been asked if I wanted to be included and if I approved the statements on the flier,” Sawyer said.
The flier mainly explains how people can vote absentee but it was other statements made that caused Scoville, seeking his second term as mayor, to send out an e-mail to the Georgetown Times.
“I expected them to run a negative campaign, but I didn't think they would actually lie,” wrote Scoville.
The flier states “last month, the failed leadership of Georgetown had the audacity to vote themselves a pay raise.”
While the topic of a pay raise for mayor and council was talked about recently, no vote on the matter has taken place.
“City Council has not had a pay raise since 1984. This part of the flier is a bald-faced lie,” Scoville said.
The flier also states “Scoville and many members of Georgetown City Council sat on their hands while our businesses literally sank into the ground,” believed to be referring to the sinkholes that formed in 2011 and since that time.
“The record is clear that the City did everything it could to prevent the sinkholes and to minimize them when they happened,” Scoville said, adding the drainage project that caused the sinkholes was managed by the S.C. Department of Transportation. “The Good Ole Boys funding this smear campaign are well aware of this.”
The final allegation made on the flier — and the one Scoville says angers him the most — states “our elected officials sat idly by while jobs were lost and our city fell into decline.”
Scoville said Georgetown is not in decline.
“Sure we went through the worst recession since the Great Depression but to say Georgetown has declined is to deny reality. We did much better than other cities of similar size in South Carolina during the Great Recession. Our population experienced its first increase since 1960 from 2000 to 2010. Until the tragic Front Street fire, our downtown business district was adding new businesses every month,” Scoville responded.
Scoville continued by addressing those he feels mailed the flier.
“The only thing that has declined in Georgetown is the influence of these Good Ole Boys. They used to be able to walk into City Hall and get anything they wanted. They can't stand that they are treated the same as everybody else and want to return to the days when they and their cronies ran things. We treat everybody the same at City Hall now and I intend to fight to keep things that way,” Scoville said.
Scoville said the people funding the group “need to identify themselves, instead of hiding behind a front group. Several people have told me they were approached to contribute by people who are suing the City over the sinkholes. They owe it to the public to show they have a financial interest in this.”
Progress for Georgetown is not breaking any laws by remaining anonymous.
“Anonymous political speech is protected in the U.S. by the First Amendment and there is nothing illegal about anonymous campaign literature,” explained Jay Bender, South Carolina Press Association attorney.
Scoville said he calls upon Powers “to denounce the negative and mendacious tactics of this anonymous group.”
Powers told the Georgetown Times Tuesday he will not be “baited” by the denouncement challenge.
“No one speaks for me but me. I am prepared to discuss the issues and only the issues. To do otherwise fosters political gaming. Voters should be focusing only on what changes or improvements they would like to see with the City and who they believe is best suited to ensure those actions are implemented,” Powers wrote.
Powers also said it seems Scoville may know who is behind Progress for Georgetown.
“If, in fact, he does not know who is involved, how is it then that he refers to them as the “Good Ole Boys.” Mr. Scoville either already knows and his request for them to identify themselves is an attempt to distract attention from the multiple challenges facing the City, or he is stereotyping constituents that don't agree with his performance,” Powers states.
“To assume someone is a “Good Ole Boy” in today's politics is a weak attempt to pull the politics of Georgetown back into an era that we have hopefully moved beyond.”
Powers continued by asking: Is it a bad idea for a citizen to want to feel special when they walk into City Hall?
“It should not be. The position of Mayor should be approached with a servant's heart. It should be the Mayor's goal to make every citizen of this City feel special,” he wrote.
Scoville, Powers and the candidates for council will be on hand for a political forum sponsored by the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and the Georgetown Business Association.
It will be moderated by GBA chairman Al Joseph.
There will be three people asking questions which were written by GBA and Chamber members.
The forum will take place from 6-9 p.m. at the Winyah Auditorium on Highmarket Street.