Thursday, June 19, 2014
Berkeley County voters aren’t done yet with selecting the Republican nominee and presumptive superintendent to run the county.
Barring a successful write-in campaign in November’s general election, whoever wins the June 24 runoff will likely be sworn-in as supervisor in January.
Incumbent Dan Davis won last week’s vote count, but was unable to gain more than 50 percent of the vote during his three-way race against Moncks Corner Mayor Bill Peagler and businessman Jerry Beckley. Beckley earned only 16 percent of the vote, and after losing his bid, endorsed Peagler.
Beckley was largely favored by members of the Goose Creek 9.12 and other conservative minorities in the county. Their total vote could swing the election in Peagler’s favor.
Still, Davis faced a similar circumstance four years ago, when he successfully defeated U.S. Congressman Henry Brown in the Republican runoff.
Berkeley County is one of four counties in South Carolina that has an elected supervisor government. According to S.C. Association of Counties, in a supervisor-council form of government, administrative responsibility resides in an elected supervisor who serves as chair of council, but only votes in case of a tie.
In recent years, since the election of Ken Gunn, Davis has not had enough votes on council — losing out to a majority unofficially headed by Councilman Tim Callanan.
Both sides have been accused of being divisive.
In a May event, sponsored by The Gazette, Davis responded to the divide:
“The split is due to politics, not decisions that are in the best interest of the county ... We think we’re making good recommendations in the interest of the county. I got to believe the public gets tired of those putting personal animosity over what’s best for the county.”
Peagler said last week, that following the primary, he met with the majority group on council.
“I am a conservative Republican and, apparently, my goals and ambitions are similar to Tim (Callanan) and also with (Ken) Gunn and (Dennis) Fish and others. We all have the same goals, and that is to increase the efficiency of government and to be transparent,” Peagler said. “They agree with me that the taxpayer is our main concern.”
He added that while he’s a team player, he’s not on anybody’s team.
Peagler was emboldened by the last week’s primary, which saw only a 700-vote gap between him and the incumbent.
“Tuesday’s results spoke to me that Berkeley County is ready for a change,” Peagler said. “He only beat me by a few hundred votes, and I think that speaks loudly.”
But for Davis, he’s not surprised by the results, landing into a runoff with a man he’s known for over 25 years.
“Overall it’s pretty much what we expected,” Davis said on Thursday. Davis responded to Beckley’s support of Peagler: “It’s a concern but, then again, it always works that way. In the next election — the runoff — it may not have the same people turnout ... Our job over the next couple weeks is to make sure we get more turnout than we did in the intitial election.”
Any registered voter in Berkeley County who did not vote in the June 10 Democratic primary is eligible to vote June 24.
Both candidates are turning to their public service records to show what they can do for leading the county.
Davis points to his tutelage of “sound finances,” the completion of the 17-A project, and other road projects.
“I think everyone ought to run on their record because that’s the only thing you know for sure,” Davis said. “(But) there’s a difference between the county and the city, so my record is a reflection of what I’ve done in the county.”
Davis said being mayor of Moncks Corner is not preparation enough to assume the helm of the county. Peagler, naturally, disagrees.
“If voters look at what we’ve done in Moncks Corner ... we’ve given the county 11 police cars that tells you something about the way we manage our budget,” Peagler said. “Our budget is oriented to the taxpayer.”