LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC — The political landscape in Lexington County municipalities changed dramatically at Tuesdays ballot, as two well-known mayors lost re-election bids.
Veteran mayors Stan Shealy of Chapin and Randy Halfacre of Lexington were ousted narrowly while another longtime mayor Pat Smith of Springdale trails by a hair in a contest headed for a recount, according to unofficial results.
Meanwhile, Councilwoman Rita Crapps will shift roles in Batesburg-Leesville as she becomes mayor.
Shealys loss to financial adviser Skip Wilson ends a 32-year-tenure leading the town of 1,500 along the north shore of Lake Murray.
I think God just has a different plan for me, Shealy said Tuesday night. Im looking forward to life hereafter. Its a new day for Chapin. I wish it well.
Wilson, who could not be reached for comment, campaigned on a theme of preparing the town better for growth.
Leland Teal, who served as a Chapin town councilman almost as long as Shealy was mayor, also lost.
Springdales Smith, second among Midlands mayors in tenure with 29 years in office, said he is at peace if his apparent loss stands.
I wish the town well, he said. I get to do other things now.
He isnt banking on a recount reversing the outcome. Whatever will be, Smith said.
Political newcomer Michael Bishop declined comment pending the recount confirming his election as mayor of Springdale, a town of 2,500 residents near Columbia Metropolitan Airport.. Three political allies who ran for Town Council lost to incumbents.
The stunning loss for Lexingtons Halfacre a power in Midlands political and business circles came after a quiet contest in which Councilman Steve MacDougall sounded a time-for-change theme.
MacDougalls message subtly fanned outrage over an ally of Halfacres promotion of online gambling interests
Halfacre, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday night, disavowed the situation, but other town leaders were concerned the race had become a referendum on that.
MacDougall brings a change in tone in the steadily growing community of 18,000 residents, concerned with improving nuts-and-bolts operations amid carrying out the vision for transit, beautification and downtown renewal that was Halfacres focus.
We want to make sure our citizens are taken care of, said MacDougall, a restaurant executive. I come from a customer service background.
Crapps becomes the fourth woman to lead a municipality in the county, an all-time high. She succeeds James Wiszowaty, who retired.
Her first goal is to proceed with plans to built a new water plant along Lake Murray, a step she says is vital to assure plenty of high-quality drinking water for the town of 5,400 on the western edge of the county.
Her daughter, Meggie Ricard, is joining her as a town leader, following election to the council seat Crapps gave up to run for mayor.
In West Columbia, write-in candidate Tem Miles won a race to fill a vacant seat on city council, garnering nearly as many votes as his four challengers.