MYRTLE BEACH — The race for five seats on the Horry County Council started with controversy, and now it looks like it’s going to end the same way for one of the campaigns.
Four of the five County Council incumbents had no opposition in the wake of hundreds of candidates statewide being forced off the ballot following a spring South Carolina Supreme Court ruling disqualifying them because they failed to file their Statement of Economic Interests form at the same time as their candidacy notice.
Two of those ousted candidates – Marvin Heyd and Patrick Boulter – got themselves back onto the ballot as write-in candidates to face Republican incumbents Bob Grabowski and Paul Prince, respectively.
Now, Boulter’s candidacy is in question following his arrest early Wednesday morning on a charge of unlawful neglect of a child.
“Yeah, it probably cost me the election,” Boulter said. “Maybe that wasn’t meant to be anyway.”
Boulter added his gut instinct was to call Prince and concede the race. Now, he’s unsure what the next step is.
“Everybody’s telling me to sleep on it,” Boulter said.
Boulter, 51, is accused of assaulting an 11-year-old boy after the child received a bad grade on a quiz
All controversy aside, when it comes to the issues the candidates are talking about, infrastructure is a big one.
Most who listen to District 9 GOP incumbent Prince know that to be true. He’s always pushed to have better and safer roads for residents to travel in Horry County.
“I’d like to see everybody be on a good, safe road,” Prince said.
If re-elected, Prince said he’d like to reinstate the $1.7 million County Council cut out of the budget roughly four years ago so it would balance. Those funds, he added, should go toward paving and resurfacing more county roads.
Republican Jody Prince, the incumbent representing District 10, said his district has more dirt roads than any other, and more than 100 miles have been paved as a result of the Riding on a Penny Sales Tax that voters approved in 2006.
For both of the Princes - no relation -there is another road that’s been the topic of much debate this year - the proposed Interstate 73.
Paul Prince said he’d like I-73 to become a reality, but his No. 1 priority is tending to county roads first.
Jody Prince is also in favor of I-73, but doesn’t believe it would even start being built for at least another three years.
“That’s a long-term goal,” he said.
Heyd, who is challenging fellow Republican incumbent Bob Grabowski for the District 6 seat, said there has to be a balance between doing road projects for local residents while continuing with development efforts like I-73, a project he adamantly supports.
“It’s hard to pave everybody’s road,” Heyd said.
First-time challenger Kenneth Robinson, a Democrat challenge Jody Prince for District 10, said voters are giving him two thoughts on I-73; some support it because of the 29,000 jobs proponents say it will create, while others are against it because they don’t want to give up their property to build the road.
As for Robinson, he supports I-73 because of job creation.
“We need jobs in Horry County,” Robinson said.
Another issue close to Heyd’s heart is economic development. He points out Horry County’s primarily a service industry and it’s hard to bring manufacturing jobs into an area without a major interstate.
He believes work with the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation is vital to diversifying the local economy.
“If we can continue to work hard through the economic development arm ... we can get some industry in here,” Heyd said.
Grabowski also supports economic development, and said he relies on the EDC to bring good projects for the County Council to consider.
“I have faith in them,” he said.
Another issue that’s big with Grabowski, he said, is public safety. Per capita wise, he added, there’s not enough officers in the county department.
However, he thinks the department’s making great strides with new Chief Saundra Rhodes.
“We need to have more police in our department. We need to grow our police department,” he said.
Others in the race for Horry County Council are Democratic incumbent Marion Foxworth, of District 3, and GOP District 4 Councilman Gary Loftus. Both are running unopposed.
Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301.