Horry County Council lost its lone Democrat Tuesday when incumbent Harold Phillips was ousted by GOP challenger Orton Bellamy.
Unofficial results showed Bellamy winning 52 percent of the vote. The District 7 seat, which has never been held by a Republican, includes the U.S. 701 South corridor and part of Conway. Bellamy unsuccessfully ran for the post as a Democrat in 2016 before switching parties.
“I’m totally elated that I won the election,” the 62-year-old said early Wednesday after the final votes were tallied. “I’m looking forward to working with the district.”
An Horry County native, Bellamy graduated from North Myrtle Beach High School before earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois; and a master’s degree in public administration from American Military University in Charles Town, West Virginia. He served 21 years in the U.S. Army, retiring as chief warrant officer three and spent 20 years on the S.C. Board of Paroles and Pardons.
“I always had a commitment to public service,” Bellamy said.
A political novice, Bellamy said he plans to meet with the county administrator and other council members to discuss their interests. Specifically, he would like to see the county raise the salaries of law enforcement to a more competitive level. He also wants the county to look at ways to improve the stormwater and drainage systems.
Bellamy’s defeat of Phillips signals the end of an era for District 7. Phillips' predecessor, James Frazier, sat on the council or decades before stepping down in 2016. That cleared the way for Phillips, who is Frazier’s cousin.
When asked about the party switch, Bellamy said he’s long voted for Republicans and many military veterans do the same. He also said his family has supported the GOP since the 1940s. However, he said he could work with people from either party.
“It’s not just about party affiliation,” he said. “I’m here to provide service to everyone in the district.”