Council requests mayor's removal

ATLANTIC BEACH - Officials in a troubled South Carolina town have voted to ask Gov. Mark Sanford to remove its mayor after her drunken driving arrest, media outlets reported Wednesday.

Atlantic Beach Mayor Retha Pierce was the only council member to vote against the resolution Tuesday calling for her ouster during a special session. Four members voted for the resolution, which read that Pierce's recent arrests are "bringing into question her ability to effectively govern and making it difficult for other government officials to carry out their other duties."

Pierce was charged last week with drunken driving, her fourth arrest in about two years. In April, she was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and arrested in January on a trespassing charge at Town Hall.

In response to the council's decision, Pierce said council members should be ashamed of themselves and accused the council of picking on her.

The vote echoes a plea from state Rep. Tracy Edge, R-Horry, who has written Sanford that Atlantic Beach would be better off without Pierce.

But under state law, the governor can only remove an elected municipal official if that person has been indicted by a grand jury for a "crime involving moral turpitude." Pierce has not been indicted.

Pierce will face a judge on the DUI charge Oct. 6.