Local

August 22, 2014

Chapin referendum on hold

The date is up in the air for a referendum in Chapin this fall on the amount of control the mayor will have in running Town Hall.

The date is up in the air for a referendum in Chapin this fall on the amount of control the mayor will have in running Town Hall.

Lexington County election officials put the ballot on hold Friday as they consider who makes the choice – Mayor Skip Wilson alone or the Town Council, dominated by his political foes.

Election officials are seeking advice from state Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office on whether to abide by the Nov. 4 ballot set by the mayor or the Sept. 30 election wanted by a majority of council members who say it’s their decision to make.

The county Registration and Election Commission is stuck amid “irreconcilable differences” among town leaders, panel member John Carrigg of Irmo said.

It’s “really disturbing” that town leaders can’t compromise on when the referendum will take place, commission member Tommy McGill of Springdale said.

Town leaders are taking a wait-and-see approach on what is recommended.

The mayor said he’ll “take into consideration” what is proposed.

Councilwoman Bibi Atkins is concerned that the mayor will refuse to allow consideration of a Sept. 30 ballot if that is what’s suggested.

Political foes of the mayor gathered enough voter signatures on petitions to force a ballot on a proposal that would lessen his hold on Town Hall operations.

The mayor wants to add it to a lengthy Nov. 4 ballot full of political races and other measures, saying more town voters will turn out then.

His foes say that’s a strategy aimed at its defeat since a countywide sales tax plan on the ballot could attract opposition to all measures.

Having a separate referendum Sept. 30 would make the possible change the sole focus, they say.

The proposal would shift many decisions on spending and staff from the mayor alone to the five-member council.

Town leaders are locked in a power struggle that erupted shortly after Skip Wilson became the Lexington County community’s first new mayor in 32 years in January.

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