The planning of Carolina Forest was sort of like the slogan from the movie “Field of Dreams” in reverse.
Instead of “If you build it, they will come,” it’s been “if they come, you will build it.”
That fact becomes painfully obvious when looking at the community’s lagging infrastructure. Traffic creeps along Carolina Forest Boulevard’s two lanes. International Drive remains unfinished. Improvements are needed on Postal Way, River Oaks Drive and other thoroughfares. Although plans are in place to complete some of these projects, that work should have been done years ago. Meanwhile, developers seek to convert every available square foot of dirt into another home or condo.
We often hear resident complaints about inadequate infrastructure in The Forest, and yet the place where those concerns should be raised is the one where they often aren’t expressed: the voting booth.
Traditionally, The Forest’s voter turnout has been abysmal. Last year, 65.5 percent of Horry County’s voters cast ballots in the November election. Among Carolina Forest precincts, the turnout was 53 percent.
That rate was actually an improvement from 2014, when 28 percent of Carolina Forest voters bothered to show up to the polls.
If Carolina Forest residents won’t use their political voice, how can they expect anyone to listen to their concerns about roads, public safety or anything else?
On Oct. 24, the community will again have a chance to select a leader. A special election will be held that day to choose a representative for District 56, which covers The Forest and extends all the way to the Longs community.
Three candidates are running in the Republican Primary: Adam Miller, a college student from Longs; Dwyer Scott, a Carolina Forest chiropractor; and Tim McGinnis, a former television anchor who runs a restaurant in The Forest.
With no Democratic opposition, the GOP winner is all but assured to take the seat.
Waccamaw Publishers traditionally has not endorsed candidates for political office, and this race will be no exception. However, we urge the residents of Carolina Forest to make their concerns heard at the ballot box.
We will feature interviews with all three candidates next week, and they plan to participate in an Oct. 18 debate hosted by the Carolina Forest Civic Association.
We encourage readers to study their options, listen to the candidates and make an informed choice.
Despite our pleas, we admit we’re not optimistic about a strong turnout this month. Special elections typically fail to draw large crowds and Carolina Forest knows this firsthand.
In 2015, when a special election was held for the Horry County Council District 3 seat — a district split between The Forest and Myrtle Beach — a paltry 787 voters cast a ballot. There are more than 14,000 registered voters in the district.
In recent years, there’s been much talk about the skyrocketing growth in Carolina Forest. Horry County officials project the community’s population will eclipse 50,000 by 2030.
And yet that total will be meaningless if the denizens of this area refuse to exercise their electoral might.
Carolina Forest has plenty of residents. We need more voters.