The terms of three Surfside Beach Town Council members are up this year and not a single one of them is running again.
Incumbents David Pellegrino, Debbie Scoles and Bruce Dietrich did not file for reelection.
Eight town residents are vying for the three spots on Tuesday. Seven candidates filed for the race and there is one hoping to get on the council via a write-in campaign.
This will be the first town election with a new rule that the candidates with the most votes will be elected, doing away with the cost of holding a runoff election.
Chris Stamey, Shawn Shoemaker, Judy Henion, Alex Samsel, Laurence McKeen, LaVerne Kreklau and William Kinken are the seven registered candidates on the ballot. Blake Davis has been campaigning as a write-in candidate.
At a recent forum sponsored by Keep Surfside Beach Beautiful, all eight candidates faced a variety of questions submitted by town residents. Each candidate had a brief chance to introduce themselves and their platform.
Stamey opened by saying he’s been going to town council meetings for five years and cited communication with the current council as a major problem for the town.
Samsel said he loves the town and is looking to advance positive changes.
Shoemaker said he realized the council was a “mess” and he decided to run to make a change.
Davis said the town is a great place to raise a family but there is plenty of work that needs to be done around town.
Henion said she has been keeping an eye on the council for several years and if elected she would be an “open book” for all residents and business owners.
Kinken noted his family’s longtime association with the town. His parents built a beach house in Surfside 60 years ago.
Kreklau said he is very analytical and wants to keep the small town feel of Surfside Beach.
McKeen said he has been very involved with the town already, having served on the town’s planning commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals.
All eight candidates agreed that the current height limits on buildings in town should remain the same at 55 feet.
Samsel: “Any candidate would be out of their minds to raise height restrictions.”
Shoemaker: “We don’t want to look like Myrtle Beach.”
Stamey: “I am totally against raising the 55’ limit.”
Davis: “I would not want that to happen in this town.”
Henion: “We came here because we liked the cozy feel.”
Kinken: “No way would I want to raise the height limits in town.”
Kreklau “All current limits need to be kept in place.”
McKeen: “I’m absolutely against raising the limits and would leave it up to a referendum to do so.”
Does the town need someone to write grants?
Shoemaker: “We need a grant writer for the federal grants. There’s so much money out there.”
Stamey: “We need to look into it but we don’t need to jump on hiring another person.”
Davis: “I think we can find someone to do it. It doesn’t need to be a paid position.”
Henion: “Most grants will pay the grant writer. The town doesn’t need to.”
Kinken: “I am not in favor of hiring somebody to write grants.”
Kreklau:”We probably have plenty in town who could help us find and get grants.”
McKeen: “I like the idea of having volunteers do the work.”
Samsel: “I would be in favor of hiring someone as a contractor, not a full-time employee.”
Do the town’s parking fees discourage visitors from coming to the town? Lanier Parking manages the town’s parking fees and spaces.
Stamey: “I think the premier parking fees should actually be higher.”
Davis: “We need tiered fees. It’s a nice stream of income.”
Henion: “We need to bring it back in-house. It’s a great revenue stream.”
Kinken: “Doing it ourselves was a disaster. We couldn’t collect out of state.”
Kreklau: “We should keep our fees in place. We pay Lanier 60 percent and should look at that contract in December.”
McKeen: “I don’t think it discourages visitors. Contrary to what some have said, Lanier only gets 30% of the revenue.”
Samsel: “Lanier gets 30% for tickets and 30% for maintenance. We actually have an opportunity to raise rates.”
Shoemaker: “People will continue to come. I do think we need to re-evaluate our contract with Lanier.”
If you could change one thing about Surfside Beach, what would it be?
Davis: “When I moved here, it was awful trying to start a business in Surfside Beach. I would make it super business friendly.
Henion: “We need to change the code enforcement and permitting process. Code enforcement needs to treat everyone the same.
Kinken: “Getting permits is a struggle. It has to be user-friendly.”
Kreklau: “Somebody within town needs to be in charge of zoning and permitting. It needs to enforced evenly.”
McKeen: “We need to change code enforcement and permits. It would make businesses and residents happier.”
Samsel: “We need a five and 10-year financial plan for the town.”
Shoemaker: “We need to change the working environment for town employees and department heads.”
Stamey: “I would change the town council. We need communication with each other and then other things would fall in place.”