2 Lexington County Council incumbents cope with challengers

tflach@thestate.comOctober 8, 2012 

Two contests for Lexington County Council center on helping neighborhoods, small towns and rural areas in the southern half of the county keep pace with growth without raising taxes.

The matches Nov. 6 pit incumbent Republicans Jim Kinard of Swansea and Bobby Keisler of Red Bank against challengers who turned in petitions to make the ballot. No Democrats are running.

Political newcomers Megan Hutto and Brian Duncan insist they will be more adept at making sure the areas aren’t overlooked when it comes to improving roads, law enforcement and fire protection while adding libraries and recreational facilities.

Kinard and Keisler are popular with fiscal conservatives for refusing to support a steady stream of small tax increases for some projects.

Hutto is mounting a spirited effort in the Gaston-Swansea-Pelion area to oust Kinard. She has peppered the area with signs promoting herself and organized community meetings after sponsoring barbecues to introduce herself.

“A lot of times, this area doesn’t receive things,” she said. “If you represent it, you should do something.”

Her ideas include helping Swansea revive its struggling downtown and adding athletic fields and walking paths while encouraging more recycling.

Kinard shrugs off her suggestion he is inattentive to features that benefit the area. “We’ve brought in our fair share – I’ve delivered.”

His list includes a new medical center in Pelion and expansion of libraries, sports complexes and services for the elderly. In addition, he was instrumental in assuring that Lexington 4 schools get a piece of taxes generated by an industrial park near Cayce that is becoming the home of manufacturers as well as new ones planned.

Hutto, 28, is part of a family-owned commercial and residential development and property management firm.

Kinard, 53, is a banker who has been a council member seven years.

The tone in the Duncan-Keisler race in the Red Bank-South Congaree is more low-key.

It centers on different styles since both agree on virtually everything, including sidewalks and a library in the Red Bank area.

Duncan promises he will be “a lot more aggressive in getting things done” in contrast to the low-profile approach that Keisler favors.

Keisler describes himself as quietly persistent. “I feel being vocal hurts you more than helps you.”

Duncan, 41, is a member of the commission that oversees recreation in the bulk of the 720-square-mile county. He operates a security service.

Keisler, 69, owns a grave-digging company. He has been a councilman for nine years.

Both races were originally set for the June 12 Republican primary.

Hutto and Duncan were forced to obtain hundreds of voter signatures on petitions to return to the ballot. Both were among 250 candidates statewide removed by court order for not reporting personal finances properly.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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