LEXINGTON COUNTY SC Challenger Ned Tolar kicked off the runoff contest for a Lexington County Council post Wednesday accusing incumbent Bill Banning of ethics lapses
Tolar’s claims of “abuse of public service” are off-base, Banning said.
The exchange came as Tolar seeks to expand his appeal as more than an anti-tax crusader in the June 24 showdown with Banning.
Tolar’s attacks centered on:
Banning expressed surprise that the tone of the two-week face-off in District 8 immediately turned negative. “They’re attacking with misrepresentations,” he said.
Tolar finished second to Banning in Tuesday’s ballot in a three-candidate field, with the runoff required because no one garnered more than 50 percent of ballots cast.
The success of anti-tax forces in pushing Banning into the runoff isn’t surprising, some officials said.
Tax advocates “expected some kickback” at the polls, Batesburg-Leesville Mayor Rita Crapps said.
Former Councilman Billy Oswald, eliminated after finishing third in Tuesday’s outcome, is backing Tolar. “I don’t want to see the person who started it (the tax plan) win,” Oswald said.
Banning spearheaded development of the tax plan while council chairman last year, saying there is no other way to make long-delayed improvements happen.
The battle over the tax and ethics overshadows Banning’s emphasis on his experience as a major player who helped bring in scores of jobs through online retailer Amazon and Nephron Pharmaceuticals.
His race with Tolar is taking place in neighborhoods stretching west from West Columbia across the Oak Grove area to the east side of Lexington and along part of the south shore of Lake Murray.
It’s an area that would benefit from the sales tax plan. About $15 million in it is earmarked for a dozen improvements for roads, water and sewer, two recreation paths along the lower Saluda River and library renovations.