LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC — Anti-drunken driving crusader David Longstreet is making a last-minute bid to win a seat on Lexington Town Council.
Longstreet becomes the ninth known write-in candidate seeking the post on Tuesday’s ballot.
Making a bid “has been tucked in my heart for months,” Longstreet said Friday, but he held back until it became clear that his effort to crack down on drunk driving would succeed.
Longstreet joins a large field of write-in candidates that developed after no one qualified for the ballot through nominating petitions. The situation led some town leaders to call for repealing that approach.
Others who have announced write-in efforts include former mayor Randy Halfacre, former councilwoman Constance Flemming, town planning commission chairman Keith Frost, retailer Jeremy Addy, probate clerk Rebecca Kennedy, real estate agent Wattie Wharton, neighborhood leader Ron Williams and retailer Scott Wilson.
The winner of the nonpartisan contest will serve through December 2015.
Longstreet’s campaign commences as he is on the verge of winning final legislative approval of a proposal aimed at targeting hard-core drunken drivers, including repeat offenders. .
Emma’s Law, named for Longstreet’s 6-year-old daughter killed in a 2012 car crash by a repeat DUI offender, could be passed by the S.C. Senate and be on its way to the governor for her signature as early as next week, supporters said Thursday.
Waiting until a few days before the ballot to start a campaign makes it a “David vs. Goliath effort,” Longstreet said.
Each write-in candidate is seeking to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Danny Frazier, who left under an ethics cloud after a furor over his involvement in advising Internet gambling sweepstake parlors that were later outlawed.
If elected, Longstreet hopes to continue his battle to reduce DUI on the local level by steps such as encouraging bars and restaurants to install breathalyzers so customers can measure intoxication. He also intends to keep an eye on legislative attempts to relax anti-DUI standards.
The race among write-ins may be the last of its kind in the steadily growing town of 18,000 residents.
Lexington is one of three municipalities in Lexington County – and the largest by far – to require candidates to qualify for the ballot by gathering signatures from in-town voters on petitions.
It takes 613 valid signatures to accomplish that today, an amount that some candidates and town leaders say is a barrier.
But some council members say petitions force candidates to demonstrate commitment and listen to residents’ concerns.
If petitions end, candidates would pay a small fee to appear on the ballot and start campaigning.
Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.