MYRTLE BEACH — In her time away from public office, Liz Gilland has found herself asking what she has done to make a difference in the world today.
The retiree felt she did a lot of good during her pervious stint as chairman for Horry County Council and knew that she could be honest and fair.
Thats why she decided to run again.
I figured Id at least give it a shot, Gilland said.
She previously headed the County Council from 2003 until 2010, and had been a council member since 1995. Before the start of her political career, Gilland lived in Nashville, Tenn., and worked in public relations for the contemporary Christian music business. She moved back home in 1990 to care for her sick parents, and never expecting to stay longer than a few months.
That return home has lasted more than 20 years and led to Gillands political career on County Council, a career she wants to restart.
The March 12 primary election will likely select a winner because all the candidates are Republicans, although there will be an April 30 general election.
If Gilland wins, one of her first areas of focus would be county employees.
Right now, morale is about as low as its been in a while, Gilland said. They (employees) can either make or break a council.
Gilland said county employees need to be compensated at market level for their work, and thats something thats slipped recently. Shed also like more public recognition of their successes.
When it comes to success, Gilland believes some of her strongest accomplishments in her first term were virtually doing away with executive session and keeping county business under the microscope of the public.
She remembered how the council would go behind closed doors for everything and stay in that room for 45 minutes up to an hour.
Now, County Council meetings and budget retreats are broadcast live on television and available for streaming on the countys website.
Im real pleased with that, Gilland said.
Councilman Carl Schwartzkopf said when it came to bringing the council together on issues, there were cases in which Gilland absolutely did. In other cases he used the analogy that the chairman probably had a pretty strong opinion the wall should have been painted white others felt it should be painted black and the rest wanted a compromise to paint the wall grey.
In an instance like that, Schwartzkopf said Gilland would stick with her guns and say the wall should be white.
She did a reasonably good job, Schwartzkopf said.
What cant be pleasing is the $45,000 fine levied by the South Carolina Ethics Commission Gilland still has to pay off. In January, she finished paying doctors bills that accumulated after a breast cancer diagnosis. She underwent a mastectomy and is now cancer free
Now, she said shell start sending the Ethics Commission $100 per month to put toward her fine. In the spring, she hopes to put on a benefit concert with her friend, country-Christian singer Amy Grant, to help raise money.
Cathy Hazelwood, legal counsel for the Ethics Commission, said no money has yet been received.
While shes decided on her financial obligations, shes less decided on where her political career might go if she does find herself back in the chairmans seat.
Whoever wins will fill the term of former chairman Tom Rice, which runs through 2014. If it is Gilland, she said shed find the political arena as bad as it once was and she wont seek re-election. Or, shell decide she likes it and will either try to retain the seat or seek another office.
I dont do payback, I dont do grudges and I really can forget negatives, she said.
Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_bdickerson.