Two candidates are vying for the Georgetown County Council Distinct 5 seat vacated by Austin Beard, who resigned in May.
The candidates are Democrat Thomas Alford and Republican Raymond Newton. Mark Mercer, another Republican, had also filed to run but dropped out of the race, meaning there will not be a primary. The special election is Sept. 10.
Both candidates provided answers to identical questions designed to give residents a preliminary look at the two men.
Raymond Newton is married with two children and three grandchildren. Newton has called Andrews home for 60 years and traces his Andrews lineage all the way back to his great-grandparents. Newton owned his own business for 22 years and is retiring from the United Parcel Service. He graduated from Andrews High School and Coastal Carolina University. He is a member of Trinity United Methodist Church.
“My inspiration for running is to be a voice for the people of District 5,” Newton said. “My past job experience enables me to help solve the problems facing our county.”
Newton identified three areas of Georgetown County government he wants to address. The first is a popular political buzz phrase. He said “fiscal responsibility” is on the list of hot-button issues.
“We don’t need to implement programs that can’t be paid for with limited future revenue,” Newton said. “We should decide as a community what our goals and priorities are and apply the resources to accomplish those goals.”
He is also interested in exploring the potential of privatizing certain services and regionalizing others.
His second point is potentially raising sales taxes to accommodate the funding of capital improvement projects, an important responsibility that does not currently have proper funding, according to Newton.
Finally, Newton said finding a qualified candidate to replace retiring County Administrator Sel Hemingway is a priority.
In the lightning round, Newton said he is a Gamecocks fan. The last book he read was “Fighting Fox Company” by Bill Brown and Terry Poyser. The last movie he saw was “John Wick: Chapter 2.”
Thomas Alford has lived in Andrews for 43 years. He is married with two children and three grandchildren. Alford graduated from Andrews High School and also obtained an Associates of Art Degree and Occupational Technology from Williamsburg Technical College. He is a member of Mt. Zion AME Church where he serves in a variety of capacities. Alford said he founded the “Adopt a Highway Program” for the Crossroad community of Andrews. He is the founder and Chairperson of the Andrews Veterans Association and has served on several boards and commissions for Georgetown County.
It is love for Georgetown County that inspired Alford to run, he said. “Accountability and Transparency” is his platform.
“I think we have a lot to offer, and I can be an asset in making that happen,” Alford said. “I have served in many other capacities, such as boards and commissions for the county, and that has given me the urge and the desire to do even more for the people of this county.
Alford said public representatives have a responsibility to listen to their constituents and have their concerns at the “forefront of our agenda.” However, he already identifies several areas of focus for District 5.
“First of all, economic development is always a plus in any district,” Alford said. Giving proper attention to the Industrial District is important for District 5. Additionally, he said persistent drainage issues need to be monitored and addressed. Roads are also a key issue for his district, he said.
“I feel any concern of District 5 is a concern of mine and I will bring them to the table for discussions,” Alford said.
In the lightning round, Alford said he has been a Clemson Tiger “all the way” since 1981. The last book he read was the Bible and the last movie he watched was “The Lion King.”