At least three new members will sit on Richland County Council come January. Will there be more?
The majority of council seats are up for election this year, and all but one are being sought by multiple candidates.
Two current council members whose seats are on the ballot (Damon Jeter and Chairman Torrey Rush) have chosen not to run for re-election; one (Kelvin Washington) was removed from office earlier this year; two (Julie-Ann Dixon and Jim Manning) face challengers; and one (Joyce Dickerson) is unopposed.
With only two Republican candidates for council – both in different districts – Tuesday’s primaries feature only Democrats. Tuesday’s voting, or a runoff election, if necessary, will determine whose names voters will see on the November ballot.
Here’s a look at who is on the ballot.
Michael D’Amelio is a political consultant who, while running as a Democrat, describes himself as a Libertarian. One action he would take as a council member is to call for an in-depth county-wide audit of all programs, departments and spending, he said.
“Over the course of the last year, I got really invested into county politics. I started looking at what was going on, the numbers and everything and how nothing was ever adding up, and I started to get so frustrated,” he said. “People love the fact that there’s going to be some fresh blood on the council.”
Yvonne McBride is a lifelong Richland County resident and the aunt of Damon Jeter, District 3’s current councilman. She is retired from the state Department of Education.
“What I’m good at is finding resources ... because I work with the business sector as well as government resources,” she said. “I’m almost the perfect fit because I bring in the old experience from understanding the process of government, but I’ve never run for any elected office before, so I bring in fresh perspective.”
Bruce Trezevant is a former law enforcement officer who founded Project Unity USA, a nationwide nonprofit devoted to unifying communities to reduce crime.
“Being a council member will give me the opportunity ... to work with the sheriff’s department to reduce these crimes” in District 3, he said. “A lot of people say, ‘You’re harping on crime too much.’ ... If there’s a lot of crime, businesses are not going to come there. That means jobs are not going to come.”
*Incumbent Damon Jeter is not running for re-election.
Keith Bailey is a former Blythewood town councilman and served as Blythewood’s mayor from 2008-2012. Under his leadership, he said, the town built a $10 million park without increasing taxes to pay for it.
Current County Council members “don’t seem to demonstrate an immense amount of creativity. They seem to get pigeon-holed into one decision or one direction,” he said. Regarding the much-disputed transportation penny tax program, Bailey said, “that’s being used as a temporary solution to a permanent problem. ... What should be done is, first of all, fund road maintenance, and No. 2, fence that money off to be designated to be used in that manner.”
Gwen Kennedy represented District 7 on County Council for 12 years in the past. She also once ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the S.C. House of Representatives.
“I know from my past experience on council what is needed in the areas of District 7. I just think I could continue to do good in the district,” she said. “We had started completing the master plan for the county when I was on (council) before, and there are still some things with that I think I could be an asset in helping the county grow.”
*Incumbent Torrey Rush is not running for re-election.
Wayne Gilbert. Efforts by The State newspaper to reach Gilbert on Wednesday and Thursday were unsuccessful.
Jim Manning (incumbent) has served for eight years on County Council. If elected to a third term, he said, he hopes to branch out in his council duties by seeking an appointment to council’s economic development committee.
“Council potentially could have six new members, so I just believe it’s important to have some continuity,” he said. As an example of his contributions to the county in his first two terms, he said, “I would suggest that you drive down Decker Boulevard and see the $20 million investment and other efforts that ... will continue to revitalize the corridor.”
Julie-Ann Dixon (incumbent) is finishing her first council term after she upset former Councilwoman Val Hutchinson in the 2012 election.
“I don’t have special interest groups. To me, everyone is equal. Everyone has a voice. As long as they reach out to me, I consider their concerns,” she said. As an example of her contributions to the county in her first term, she pointed to several dirt roads that have been paved in her district. “I’ve dusted off the dirt road binder. ... People have been waiting 25 to 30 years to have their roads paved.”
Calvin “Chip” Jackson is retired from the state Department of Education and has served for the past eight years on the Richland 2 school board. He will not be running for re-election on the school board this year, he said.
“I understand working with large budgets. I understand planning for the future. ... I know how to manage growth,” he said. “I know what it’s like to answer to a constituent group, to be visible, to be transparent. ... I know dealing with issues surrounding the (transportation penny tax) will be something I’m up for and ready to hit the ground immediately.”
This is a unique race. Tuesday will feature a special election runoff between Dalhi Myers and Bernice Scott to temporarily fill the seat until after the November election. There will be a separate ballot Tuesday for the general election primary, which features all five candidates. So, voters in this district will actually vote twice on Tuesday.
The State profiled these candidates on May 28 prior to the May 31 special primary election.
The candidates are: Helen Taylor Bradley, Mary Kirkland, Jerome Marvin Miller, Dalhi Myers and Bernice Scott.
Who’s on the primary ballots
Jim Manning (incumbent)
Julie-Ann Dixon (incumbent)
Calvin Chip Jackson
Helen Taylor Bradley
Jerome Marvin Miller
Names you won’t see in the primary
Clerk of Court – Jeanette McBride, Democrat, running unopposed
Coroner – Gary Watts, Democrat, running unopposed
Council District 2 – Joyce Dickerson, running unopposed
Council District 7 – Michael Greene, Republican (no other Republicans running; will be on November ballot)
Council District 8 – Todd Phillips, Republican (no other Republicans running; will be on November ballot)