Town Clerk Diane Allen administered the oath of office to Brian Henry Monday, Nov. 18 as the mayor of Pawleys Island. She also swore in the four returning members of Town Council who won another two-year term. They are Ashley Carter, Sarah Zimmerman, Rocky Holliday and Guerry Green.
The oath-taking capped a divisive election campaign for the Town.
On election night, Nov. 5, unofficial results showed that incumbent Mayor Jimmy Braswell and Henry were tied at 58 votes each. There were also 22 challenged ballots. Other unofficial vote totals showed that challenger Josh Ricker with 66 votes led incumbent Green with 54 votes.
When the Thursday, Nov. 7 vote certification meeting was held, Braswell and Ricker and several poll watchers protested the ballots. They stated that the individuals who had registered in the weeks before the deadline did not live on the island. They included both Henry and Green as challenged electors.
After a five-hour meeting, the Board of Canvassers – the name for the Georgetown County Board of Voter Registration and Elections when it sits for the vote certification meeting – accepted all the challenged ballots. That resulted in Henry and Green both being declared as valid electors and winning their respective races.
Braswell and Ricker protested the results of the hearing. The Election Board met again on Tuesday, Nov. 12 and in less than 45 minutes granted a motion to dismiss the protest that was offered by attorney Butch Bowers on behalf of Henry and Green. Neither of them was present for the protest hearing.
After the Board dismissed the protest, Braswell said he would not appeal the decision even though he believes the Board’s decision was wrong. Ricker said he needed time to think about whether he would appeal, or not. Tuesday morning, Nov. 19 Ricker told the Georgetown Times / South Strand News that he won’t be filing an appeal.
At the beginning of the Monday meeting, Braswell presided. Within a few minutes the agenda for the Town Council meeting called for the swearing-in of the new office holders. At that point, Braswell offered his congratulations to Henry and left the Town Council chambers just before Henry and the returning Council members took their oaths of office.
“Before we get into the next, I’d just like to say it’s been an honor and a privilege to be mayor of this wonderful island,” Braswell said. “I’d like to thank the residents and homeowners for their support and the privilege of serving them.”
“Ryan (Fabbri), you, Diane and the Chief (Mike Fanning) have been over the top, professional, fabulous and wonderful to work with. Chief, if you would, please relate to your officers. They’ve been very kind and supportive and I think they’re very professional and they’re to be honored. Please give them my best.”
“With that, I’d like to say congratulations to the new Council, especially the new mayor. And, with all my heart, the best of everything to Pawleys Island.”
After that, Councilman Ashley Carter said, “It’s been a privilege and an honor working with you. And we can say, without a doubt, that you have Pawleys Island’s best interests at heart. We appreciate that, and the job you’ve done.”
Following the oaths, members elected Rocky Holliday as Mayor Pro Tem. As the meeting wrapped up later, Henry read the following prepared statement to Town Council and the people who packed the meeting room.
Among other things, he called for all property owners to “have a voice.”
“Now what are we going to do moving forward? That is why I’m here and that’s what we’ve been elected to address…”
“Moving Forward… it is time to unify this island. We no longer need to refer to the North, middle, or south end of the island. We are Pawleys Island, and we don’t need any divisions or factions.”
“Moving Forward… the last 12 weeks have seen my opponents try to silence the voices of legally registered voters on Pawleys Island. We will go the opposite direction. I believe every property owner on Pawleys Island should have a voice. And on all important issues, we will make sure that they do.”
“Moving Forward… we need to communicate better with all property owners. That includes emails, texts, and mailings that accommodate owners of all ages. That will ensure transparency and real-time feedback on important issues.”
“Moving Forward…. We will make funding future projects our top priority. We will lead the development of a formal plan to fund our share of all future beach renourishments, as well as Creekside flooding and dredging projects.”
“Moving Forward… We will work with Georgetown County so that they not only share our beach, but help us fund future projects. The entire community shares a love for this island, so it is time that we all share in the cost to protect Pawleys for future generations.”
“Moving Forward… we will slow traffic on the island and make it more pedestrian and cycler friendly.”
“I ran for Mayor, not because I needed something else to do. That was the last thing on my mind. Not only was it a difficult decision to run, I then had to fight to keep my candidacy and voting rights intact. Why? Because I had a strong feeling that we needed new leadership, positivity, and energy. I also felt like the island was too important to risk the possibility of fundamental changes, because that prospect was becoming too real during the last year. And lastly, Pawleys Island has given my family a great deal over the years, and serving as mayor provided me the opportunity to give back.”
“Since making that decision, I have been blown away by the amount of support I have received. So many people that I’ve long respected stood squarely in my corner from Day 1 through challenged votes and protests. I will always be grateful and motivated to do right by Pawleys Island. I will not be doing that alone. We will all do it together in the spirit of cooperation, unity, and the more-the-merrier approach. That is what Pawleys Island demands, and that’s what it deserves.”