Editorial | Incumbents (or Heyd) for County Council

November 1, 2012 

Horry County Council, District 6

Socastee voters are fortunate enough to have two well-qualified candidates to choose from to be their councilman. Both incumbent Bob Grabowski and challenger Marvin Heyd have experience on the council, know the county well and have shown a real interest in serving their community and improving its lot.

It’s hard to draw a clear line between the two remarkably similar choices. Both candidates hold themselves out to be an independent voice, not easily swayed by one side or the other. Both have shown themselves to be responsive to constituents, good listeners and leaders who take their votes seriously, knowing that their decisions will affect real people. Both candidates would support a referendum to extend the RIDE tax, with the intention of improving more roads in the area. Both own their own business, have served in the military and spent time on the Socastee Recreation Commission. And both support the job creation work of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp., though as Grabowski said, he wants to see solid results that show the county is getting its money worth.

When two candidates are so closely matched, we usually favor the incumbent by default, simply because he or she is more familiar with the issues currently before the public body. In this case, we frankly feel either would do a fine job for the district. If we had our druthers, we’d ask one of them to move elsewhere in the county so both could serve. Our best advice for voters: Count yourself lucky that you have no bad choice in this election and just follow your gut.

Horry County Council District 9

How much should personal lives matter when electing our leaders? That’s the question that faces us in the race to be the next Horry County Councilman for District 9, which represents Wampee, Loris and the western edges of North Myrtle Beach.

Paul Prince, who has represented the area off and on for 20 years, is a nice, kind gentleman who sincerely wants the best for those he represents. Despite his decades of service, we’ve never been particularly overawed by his policy knowledge or bowled over by his ideas for improving the county. We’ve even wondered how at times how much he was really paying attention in council meetings. But on the whole he has done a dedicated and fairly solid job representing his district.

Newcomer Patrick Boulter, who seeks to unseat him, does possess the sharp mind, business acumen and passionate energy that we look for in candidates. Boulter is knowledgeable about the details of county government, is familiar with how it works (and how it doesn’t) and offers sound ideas on improving life for the county and his district, particularly for small businesses. He’s assertive, confident and willing to say what’s on his mind, a quality often lacking in many groomed and wary politicians.

Unfortunately, that aggressive nature was on display earlier this month, when he was arrested after a fight with his 11-year-old son. Boulter was charged with unlawful neglect of a child after arguing with his son about a grade, wrestling him to the ground and slapping him in the face.

Boulter says the arrest was simply “a disciplinary issue that got blown out of proportion” and it doesn’t change the fact that he would be a better councilman than Prince.

In many ways, we agree. Boulter is sharper and more energized than Prince, and he brings fresh ideas to the table that deserve to be discussed. However, we cannot in good conscience recommend for public service a man who assaults his children, no matter the disciplinary issues involved. In such a case, we have strong concerns about his judgment and suitability for office. A man who cannot control his anger or, worse, a man who believes such actions are acceptable even when his emotions have not taken over, should not be placed in such a position of responsibility and held up as representative of our residents.

Boulter told us Thursday that he had initially considered waiting a few more years before running, until his children were a bit older. We would urge him to take that first instinct to heart. Prove that what happened this month was an anomaly, get your emotions in check, and try again. Meanwhile, we’d rather stick with the incumbent.

Horry County Council, District 10

Republican incumbent Jody Prince faces only nominal opposition this year in the form of Democrat Kenneth Robinson, who did not return requests for an interview and who we’ve seen little of on the campaign trail.

For his part, Prince has shown himself to be a capable councilman, responsible to his constituents and invested in the future of our community. We’re very comfortable recommending he be returned to the seat.

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