Myrtle Beach City Council candidates

Ed Carey

Age: 62

Occupation: Independent Project Management consultant providing owner representation services covering the construction and development industry

Experience: Senior Project Manager / The Market Common 2006 - 2009; co-chair of the Horry County Republican Party 2019 - 2021; Children’s Recovery Center board of directors 2006 - 2017; American Institute of Constructors (AIC) national board directors; Construction Certification Commission board of directors; American Institute of Constructors, Professional Constructor Level member;  American Institute of Constructors / National Capital Chapter president; many professional, trade and owners organizations board of directors 1983 – present; 30-plus years of senior management and coordination encompassing over $1 billion in public/private construction and development projects with up to 1,100 in manpower including estimators, schedulers, architects and engineers, general contractors and sub-contractors; collaborated with government officials, vendors and clients.

      

Why should voters choose you?

As Myrtle Beach continues to wrestle with substantial growth and significant change, our resident voters deserve a knowledgeable, capable, experienced advocate for families and small businesses; for limited and fully-transparent government; for the defense of personal and property rights and for establishing public safety as our number one priority - the key to personal safety, jobs and tourism growth.

Working together, we can forge a bold new path. With 40 years of successful, professional management, I will provide experienced leadership and guidance to rebuild Myrtle Beach into America’s favorite family resort and finest place to live and work:  a visionary government founded on integrity, transparency, fairness and inclusion.

List three challenges facing the city and what solutions do you have for the challenges.

City government is involved in too many activities and expenditures that are better handled by private enterprise. Worse, it consistently fails at ensuring public safety and security for citizens and visitors alike. It’s time for fair, smart, honest government that puts citizens and small businesses first.

1) Public Safety: We must provide the best-trained, fully-equipped and highly paid police, fire and rescue.

2) Streamlining Government: We must combine departments and commissions to gain efficiencies, lower costs and remove roadblocks to the development process; initiate term limits and single member voting districts.

3) Get Out of the Development Business and Get Out of the Way: That means closing the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation (and not replacing it with another entity), selling inappropriate businesses; reducing our debt; eliminating license and tax policies that discourage small business growth and stop the practice of picking winners and losers.

Mike Chestnut

Age: 56

Occupation: owner/operator of Big Mike’s Soul Food and realtor.

Experience: Myrtle Beach City Council Mayor Pro Tem 2018-present; Myrtle Beach City Council 2000-present; served on the Myrtle Beach Housing Authority board.

Why should voters choose you?

Because as a native of Myrtle Beach I want to see our city continue to improve and become the place where we are all proud to call home. I believe I have proven myself as a council member who balances the needs of our business community and our residents.

List three challenges facing the city and what solutions do you have for the challenges.

1) Better working relations with other government partners in the county and state. I would be willing to sit down, talk about the differences and work on solutions to improve the quality of life for all of our residents and business community.

2) We must continue to make sure that our police department is fully staffed and have all the new technology to do their job to ensure public safety.

3) It is time to make something happen with downtown redevelopment. We have been talking long enough. Let’s take the plan (Downtown Master Plan) tweak it and work on the funding. Funding includes tax incentives from the federally funded Opportunity Zone designation, state and federal historical tax credits and other grants.

Charles Gasque

Age: 77

Occupation: retired construction business owner

Experience: no previous political experience

Why should voters choose you?

Voters should choose me for a multitude of reasons. For one, I am a long-time resident of the Myrtle Beach area, and over this time I have been a first-hand witness to what has worked and what has not worked in the city. In more recent times, it seems that more “solutions” have failed to work than actually solve the problems they are intended to fix. For instance, years ago when I moved into the Withers Swash neighborhood, which is right across from Withers Swash Park, the park was not a park, it was a playground for criminals. If you know anything about this area, then you know that it has been riddled with drugs, prostitution, vandalism, and general law breaking for years. Keep in mind, that this park includes a pier for everyone to enjoy, large picnic areas for families, and a playground for children. Well, after watching the park become prime real estate for criminal activity, I finally decided to do something about it. I, along with a neighbor who lives down the road, decided to call the police to the park for every law infraction seen. I also began confronting the individuals committing the crimes and explaining to them that this was no longer a safe haven for what they were doing. Within six months, the park has undergone a complete transformation. I want to sincerely thank the Myrtle Beach Police and city officials for assisting my neighbor and me in bettering the park. Now, the park is not perfect but it has made incredible progress, so much so, that a neighbor of mine remarked to me, “This is the first time I feel like I can walk in that park in years.” You see, this is just one of the many trouble spots in Myrtle Beach. As a citizen, I can do only so much, which is why I am running for City Council. I worked hard to better my neighborhood, and as your councilman, I will bring this attitude to the entire city. As councilman, I will work hard to bring aggressive policing to the remaining “trouble” areas of our city and reinstall the fun and family atmosphere Myrtle Beach profited and became famous off of. Why elect the people who promise you better public safety, when you can elect someone who has proven he can fulfill that promise?

List three challenges facing the city and what solutions do you have for the challenges.

1) Drugs: I will work with the city officials in Myrtle Beach to solve this issue. I believe there are better solutions than what are being implemented now.

2) Crime: I want to see a more hands on police department, from the top to the bottom. I also want to work with the state and Horry County to expand police jurisdiction into the areas of the county that are completely surrounded by the city. These areas are commonly referred to as doughnut holes, as they are completely surrounded by the city but are technically not in the city limits. Criminals know that the city police cannot do anything to them in these areas, and that the county response time is long, which essentially creates an island for them where little to no law is enforced.

3) Infrastructure: Some of the infrastructure projects I want to see are an overhauled sewer system, filtered outflows and more street lights, including solar street lights. I also want to focus on the parking issues within the city.

Wayne Gray

Age: 51

Occupation: Senior Vice President for Synovus Bank

Experience: former member of Myrtle Beach’s Tourism Committee; Myrtle Beach City Council 1998-2001 and 2006-2017; Myrtle Beach Mayor Pro Tem three terms which includes 2000-2001, 2009 – 2013.

Why should voters choose you?

Myrtle Beach has been a wonderful place for my family and me. I learned at an early age the responsibility of community service which includes volunteering as a coach in the Myrtle Beach recreation system, serving on various committees in our local school system, serving as past chairman of the Board of Directors of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and 16 years on Myrtle Beach City Council including three terms as Mayor Pro-Tem. These opportunities along with my experience as a bank executive and entrepreneur in the hospitality industry have provided me insight and understanding of the challenges facing our growing community and managing a $200 million city budget. I have a great passion and love for this community and I am eager to represent all of our citizens to make Myrtle Beach a world-class community and a world class resort.

List three challenges facing the city and what solutions do you have for the challenges.

1) The conflict between a growing permanent residential population and entertaining 20 million visitors per year. We can’t be a world-class resort without first being a world-class community. We must invest in our neighborhoods and public infrastructure to provide a great quality of life for our citizens that will also serve our tourism economy providing economic opportunity for everyone. 

2) The conflict between the two largest political entities in the county between the city of Myrtle Beach and Horry County. My previous service on City Council and the board of directors of the Myrtle Breach Area Chamber of Commerce and other organizations has resulted in the understanding of intergovernmental cooperation to respect our differences while working together for the common good.

3) The city must maintain a commitment to working with the private sector on redeveloping our downtown and historic hospitality district, however, the core functions of government such as public safety, investing into our public infrastructure like water and sewer lines, solid waste and sanitation facilities, street lighting and ensuring quality neighborhoods must have the same commitment and investment.

Mary Jeffcoat

Age: 67 

Occupation: City Council member and communications/strategic planning consultant for nonprofit organizations.

Experience: Myrtle Beach City Council 2016–present and 1984–1992; Municipal Association board of directors July 2018–present; National League of Cities’ Community and Economic Development Committee January 2017–present; Homeless Initiative Facilitator for city of Myrtle Beach January 2012-June 2013; Director of Public Information, Municipal Association of S.C. 1975-1976. Volunteer experience: Myrtle Beach Rotary Club member 2009–present and board member 2012-2015; New Directions of Horry County board member 2013–2015; Street Reach Ministries vice president 2009–2011; Myrtle Beach’s Taste of the Town chair 1990; Mercy Hospice of Horry County board member 1989-1992 and chairman 1992; Leadership Grand Strand I graduate 1978.

Why should voters choose you?

 I have the proven track record, experience, knowledge, character and temperament to serve on Myrtle Beach’s City Council team.

Four years ago, I promised to work for a safer Myrtle Beach. Here are the results:

• We’re implementing a plan to add, retain and recruit 70 new police officers.

• We voted to increase salaries of our police officers.

• We added security cameras and license plate readers to catch more criminals.

• Violent crime rate dropped by 17% in 2018 and 14% in 2019 (through June 30).

I promised to keep property taxes low and Myrtle Beach property taxes are among the lowest in the nation.

I pledged to work to make Myrtle Beach a better place to live. Here are the results:

• We addressed the residential parking issues along Ocean Boulevard.

• We equipped all first responders with Narcan and initiated a countywide study on the effects of the opioid crisis.

• We started the Technology Advisory Group to help bring new tech jobs to the city.

• We finished renovations to Doug Shaw Stadium.

• We are developing a traffic plan for Market Common.

I promised improved accountability. Here are the results:

We’re implementing new software to make city information more accessible to the public.

I’ve been holding regular office hours to meet with constituents.

Downtown revitalization was also part of my campaign pledge four years ago. Here’s what’s happening:

We developed and are implementing a plan to revitalize downtown and are creating an Arts and Innovation district for this area, including plans for a new library.

By the end of the year, our downtown will be a designated historic district, making redevelopment more affordable.

My City Council experience is a good compliment to the new mayor and two new City Council members elected two years ago. Our current City Council is an effective working team, getting things done for our residents.

While serving on City Council, I have taken every opportunity to learn about city government, graduating from the Municipal Association of S.C.’s Institute of Government and the Advanced Institute of Government. It was in one of these classes that I learned how using historic tax credits can help our downtown revitalization efforts.

List three challenges facing the city and what solutions do you have for the challenges.

1) Public safety is the biggest challenge facing not just Myrtle Beach, but every community in our country. To make our city safer, I will continue to support the city’s plan to recruit and pay police officers competitive salaries and make sure our police officers have the tools and technology they need to prevent crime and catch criminals. To have a safe city, we need a safe downtown. That’s why I will continue to work on seeing our Downtown Master Plan become a reality. The opioid crisis plagues our entire country and in Myrtle Beach and I pledge to support the initiatives we have planned to help our residents who are suffering from this addiction.

2) Keeping taxes low also is a challenge for cities. Myrtle Beach’s property taxes are the lowest in the state and I pledge to keep them that way.

3) Accountability and transparency are critical for ensuring public trust. During the next year or two, the new software we’re working with should be fully implemented and citizens will have access to a user-friendly system that provides accountability and improves the customer service.

John Krajc

Age: 29

Occupation: Realtor, Coldwell Banker Chicora Advantage

Experience: Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassador 2013-2014, Five Points Association president 2016-present, Grand Strand Humane Society board of directors 2019-present, Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors board of directors 2019-present, Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors legislative committee 2015-present, South Carolina Realtors legislative committee 2019-present, Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors Young Professionals Network (chairman 2018, 2014-present)

Why should voters choose you?

My heart is for service. I have lived that statement by working closely with other like minded people to make our city a better place. I have worked to forge necessary relationships with leaders in government and private enterprise, both locally and on a state level, that can serve as resources for our community. It’s time for fresh ideas, a dynamic perspective, and enthusiasm on City Council. We need leaders on City Council who ensure we are among the most business friendly cities not only in South Carolina, but also in the Southeast. We need people who will buy in and support new business and bold downtown revitalization while improving the quality of life for our residents. I believe in the future of Myrtle Beach. I believe the next generation should have the opportunity to grow up in a place that is safe with a community we can be proud of. 

List three challenges facing the city and what solutions do you have for the challenges.

1) Public safety: I believe public safety should be the number one priority of city government. We need to continue investing in police officers and other programs that will make Myrtle Beach safe for our families. If elected, I would like to work with my fellow council members to focus on this need and tackle this problem head on by enhancing police presence and installing more street lights and cameras in areas more prone to crime. With input from law enforcement and hard work from council members, I believe we can make our city a safer place for residents and visitors. 

2) Investing in infrastructure: Our city is one of the fastest growing in the nation and is predicted to remain that way for the next decade or more. A proactive approach to improving the quality of life and safety through infrastructure is vital. A cutting edge waste transfer station is needed that has more convenient service hours to meet residents’ needs. Improved and additional sidewalks and bicycle lanes as well as intersection enhancements with visible crosswalks, surveillance devices and signage to make pedestrian and traffic safety is a top priority.

3) Downtown Redevelopment 

Economic growth in Myrtle Beach needs to be focused on revitalizing and redeveloping our downtown area. We have a group of hard-working people dedicated to bringing this area back to life. My plan is to continue doing the work I have been helping with by working to beautify the area, bring groups of people together with the common goal of making it better, encourage community events in the streets and be a resource for small business owners interested in locating there. We need to invest in our future in the heart of where this city began.­

Phil Render

Age: 65

Occupation: general dentist, retired dean of Healthcare and Business, Horry Georgetown Technical College, retired adjunct clinical faculty member, College of Dental Medicine, MUSC

Experience: South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees 2009-2015,

Horry County Higher Education Commission 1984-1988, Ocean View Memorial Foundation 2004-2006, 2016-present, Myrtle Beach City Council member, 2004-present, past mayor pro tempore

Why should voters choose you?

During my public service I have been viewed by Myrtle Beach residents as the voice of reason, stability and civility on the body. Often when an issue arose requiring conversation with other representatives, I have been asked to voice the city’s position and willingness to work with other legislative bodies to reach solutions. I also review the city’s financial position with staff with regularity. 

List three challenges facing the city and what solutions do you have for the challenges.

1) Public Safety: Continue to support systemic public safety enhancements. The City Council has increased resource deployment by 31%, adding 10 new officers a year since the 2015 election. There have also been technology upgrades including camera deployment citywide and a renewed emphasis on neighbor involvement with public safety officers spending more time in schools and neighborhoods with our young people.

2) City Infrastructure and Debt Management: Myrtle Beach should direct a portion of any new local funding streams to concerns such as alleviating traffic congestion during peak tourism months by improving local roads, traffic signaling coordination and drainage. New resources should also be employed to improve or rebuild our solid waste transfer station and reduce city hotel debt as we have already done with the convention center and baseball stadium debt in 2017 and 2018.

3) Simply devote more city resources to our residential neighborhoods. As crime continues to fall in many business areas due to business expansion and policing efforts, less public resources will be required in those redeveloped areas thus making available more assets to be deployed in neighborhood settings.

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