LEXINGTON, SC — As many as five new mayors in Lexington County municipalities could be chosen on the Nov. 5 ballot.
Those facing challenges include two of the longest-serving mayors in the Midlands – Stan Shealy of Chapin with 32 years and Pat Smith of Springdale with 29 years.
At least two new top town elected leaders are guaranteed with the retirements of veteran mayors James Wiszowaty of Batesburg-Leesville and Charles Haggard of Pelion.
There likely won’t be elections in Irmo, Pelion and Summit. A lack of contests in each of those communities means candidates — most of them incumbents — are elected automatically with no need for a vote.
Pine Ridge also has no matches, but a referendum will be held there on a proposed property tax increase to put in fire hydrants.
Three other mayoral races promise to be spirited:
• Randy Halfacre, the high-profile mayor and business leader of Lexington, faces a time-for-change challenge from Councilman Steve MacDougall.
• It’s a three-candidate field to replace Wiszowaty, with the outgoing mayor supporting Councilwoman Rita Crapps over Councilman Steve Cain and newcomer Bob Hall.
• Longtime Swansea Mayor Ray Spires again faces opposition, this time from Councilman Jerald Sanders.
Races for Town Council in Batesburg-Leesville, Springdale and West Columbia could become animated with multiple candidates vying for some posts.
Shealy and Smith profess no concern about having rare opposition.
“People know me, what I’ll do and not do,” Shealy said. “I’m only concerned about serving the town as best I can.”
Smith sounds a similar outlook.
“I go to events and see folks to hear their concerns,” he said. “It keeps you connected.”
The transition in Pelion will be quiet as Councilwoman Barbara Smith is unopposed in succeeding Haggard, and only incumbents are running for council posts.
Haggard, who has been Pelion’s leader for 10 years, promises to keep busy mowing grass at town facilities and other volunteer work even though he won’t be at Town Hall to oversee things daily.
“It’s really not a part-time job,” he said of being mayor. “You’re on call 24/7. I’ve got to the point we’re it’s time to step back.”
During his tenure, the town of 700 residents re-established its police force, opened a park, attracted a medical clinic and connected its water and sewer utilities to a municipal network to improve service.
Economic growth was the focus of Wiszowaty’s tenure in Batesburg-Leesville.
During his12 years as mayor, the town attracted a satellite campus of Midlands Technical College, added major retailers, settled on building a water plant on nearby Lake Murray and made improvements to an industrial area to attract jobs to the community of 5,400 residents.
A regional plan for water and sewer service with adjoining Saluda County fell apart due to its price, disagreement over who would be in control and complaints from environmental and sports groups that it would pollute the Edisto River.
His legacy is threatened by would-be successors who want to cancel the new water plant, a project supported by Wiszowaty ally Crapps.
Even though he isn’t on the ballot, Wiszowaty promises to remain active in local matters amid operating his restaurant and convenience stores.
Being out of office gives him freedom to speak out instead of being constrained while trying to forge compromise, he said.
“I want all the naysayers to know I’m like an uncaged lion,” Wiszowaty said. “I’m coming after them. I’ll be able to do what I want.”
Referendums in three communities also are on the ballot:
• Chapin will decide on joining other towns that allow beer and wine sales at stores on Sundays.
• The Golden Hills neighborhood in Lexington will decide on raising its road upkeep fee from $105 to $200 a year, a plan contingent on County Council approval Tuesday.
• Pine Ridge will decide on adding a property tax to install fire hydrants throughout the town of 2,100 residents. The tax would be $40 a year on a home assessed at $100,000, ending when the project is done.
On the ballot
Here are candidates on the Nov. 5 ballot in Lexington County towns and cities. All races are nonpartisan, with the top vote-getters elected. There are no runoffs. All posts are for four-year terms, except as noted.
Batesburg-Leesville: Mayor: Steven Cain, Rita Crapps and Bob Hall. Town Council: (one per district) Pansy Buzhardt and Rachel Taylor in District 1; Steve Cain*, Delores Peaster and Cynthia Settle in District 3; Bob Penick and Vernard Ramage in District 5; and Maggie Ricard in District 7
Chapin: Mayor: Stan Shealy* and Skip Wilson. Town Council: (two at-large) Robbie Frick*, Leland Teal* and Gregg White. Referendum: OK Sunday sale of beer and wine in stores
Irmo: Town Council (two at-large) - Kathy Condom* and Barry A. Walker Sr.*
Lexington: Mayor: Randy Halfacre* and Steve MacDougall. Town Council (three at-large) - Hazel Livingston*, Kathy Maness* and Ted Stambolitis*. Referendum: Road fee increase in Golden Hills
Pelion: Mayor: Barbara Smith. Town Council: (two at-large) - Starr Corley* and Samuel Jackson*
Pine Ridge: Mayor: David Busby*. Town Council: ( two at-large) - Floyd Dinkins* and Robert Wells*. Referendum: OK property tax for fire hydrants
Springdale: Mayor: Pat Smith* and Michael Bishop. Town Council: (three at-large) - Kayleen Mobley, David Murray, Chad Owens, Kevin Reeley*, Juston Ricard* and Jacob Wilkerson*
Summit: Town Council: (two at-large) Henry Hartley* and David Reese*
Swansea: Mayor: Ray Spires* and Jerald Sanders. Town Council: (one per district) Linda Butler* in District 1; Woodrow Davis* and Kevin Hackett in District 2
West Columbia: City Council: (one per district) Dale Harley* and Steve Martin in District 1; Tim Corey and Casey Jordan Hallman* in District 3; Luane Brickhouse, Bobby George, Marsha Moore and Ann Thornley in District 4 (two years to fill vacancy); Boyd Jones* in District 5; Preston Cantrell and Tommy Parler* in District 7
* denotes incumbent
Source: Lexington County election officials
Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.