Nine vie for three seats in Surfside Beach election

akelley@thesunnews.comApril 7, 2014 

  • Bob Childs

    Age | 73

    Address | 311 14th Ave. N.

    Occupation | retired

    Family | married with three children

    Civic and political experience | Four years on Town Council, two of which were as mayor pro tempore. Chairman of 50th anniversary committee, served on various committees in town.

    Education | High school and studied at various colleges that were job related. Graduate of the S.C. Municipal Association school for elected officials.

    Military experience | none

    Contact information | 238-5149

    Question | Should the town allow construction of docks on town-owned lakes? Why or why not?

    Answer | I personally have not been involved in the discussions or debates over the construction of the docks. If the homeowners on the waterways want them and they are engineered properly, installed professionally, and they are not too large, I see no problem.

    Keith Dame

    Age | 49

    Address | 412 Seventh Ave. S.

    Occupation | personal injury, estate planning, real estate and corporate lawyer

    Family | married with one daughter

    Civic and political experience | Provide legal work for a charitable organization which benefits local children.

    Education | Washington & Lee University School of Law, juris doctor (1995); UCLA, bachelor of arts (1992)

    Military experience | Veteran of the United States Army (1985)

    Contact information |

    Question | Should the town allow construction of docks on town-owned lakes? Why or why not?

    Answer | I would oppose this proposition because most of the lakes in Surfside are too small and such construction would decrease the use for the other residents.

    Sandra Elliott

    Age | 67

    Address | 611 Fifth Ave. N.

    Occupation | retired tax assessor

    Family | married with three children and four grandchildren

    Civic and political experience | 25 years experience in local government, serve on Surfside Beach Planning and Zoning Commission, chair of Surfside Beach Storm Water Committee, attends Surfside United Methodist Church

    Education | attended Rutgers University, coursework property tax administration I and II, real property appraisal I and II, and County Tax Administration, State Certified Tax Assessor

    Military experience | none

    Contact information | 712-2207 or

    Question | Should the town allow construction of docks on town-owned lakes? Why or why not?

    Answer | It would be nice for residents to be able to have docks. However, the lakes are part of a watershed that collects storm runoff from town plus 1,100 acres of Horry County. The Planning and Zoning Commission has twice requested town council to fund an engineer’s study. This study is required by FEMA for them to provide their opinion on how additional docks would affect national flood insurance premiums for both the town government and individual residents. Once the study is complete, and if the results are favorable, only then do I believe we should move forward on this issue.

    Carrie Johnson

    Age | 66

    Address | 123 Harbor Lights Drive

    Occupation | insurance broker

    Family | married with three children and six grandchildren

    Civic and political experience | Serve on Surfside Beach Planning and Zoning Commission, president of the Independent Insurance Agents of Horry Georgetown counties, member of Independent Insurance Agents of S.C., Surfside Rotary Club, Habitat for Humanity, Dictionary Buddies for Horry County Schools

    Education | Graduate of Insurance Institute of America with accredited adviser in insurance designation; graduate of the American College with designations as chartered financial consultant and chartered life underwriter

    Military experience | none

    Contact information | 238-4850 or

    Question | Should the town allow construction of docks on town-owned lakes? Why or why not?

    Answer | I don’t feel an informed decision can be made at this time to allow docks on lakes. I live on the lake and would like to have a dock as much as anyone, but I do not want to see a decision made to allow docks at the detriment of the entire town. We need to wait until FEMA has had a chance to review our community rating and inform us if docks on the lakes will affect the community rating in a negative manner.

    Beth Kohlmann

    Age | 52

    Address | 1610 S. Ocean Blvd.

    Occupation | retired New York Police Department detective squad commander, dedicated volunteer

    Family | married with five children and two grandchildren

    Civic and political experience | volunteer for South Strand Helping Hand, Myrtle Beach Honor Flight, member of the recreation/special events committee (committee deactivated), Charter member of Coastal Carolina Shields (retired law enforcement group), was Surfside Beach town councilwoman from 2012 to 2014

    Education | B.S. SUNY, graduate of Municipal Elected Officials Institute of Government, S.C.

    Military experience | none

    Contact information | 750-0554 or

    Question | Should the town allow construction of docks on town-owned lakes? Why or why not?

    Answer | The town certainly needs to review the facts and data and steer clear of misinformation and rumors. I believe in property rights of all the residents in town. I would have liked to have seen a safe compromise instead of a ban. The town went from no enforceable rules to a ban. In fairness to all, I believe it deserved more work on the part of the town.

    Ralph Magliette

    Age | 60

    Address | 104 Harbor Lights Drive

    Occupation | Merck & Co, Inc., research fellow, chemical engineering R&D (retired)

    Family | married with one son and one daughter

    Civic and political experience | no elected office help, volunteer vice president of South Strand Helping Hand, coordinator of the Give-A-Meal-A-Month and Neighbor-2-Neighbor programs at Surfside United Methodist Church, chairman Surfside Beach senior citizen advisory committee, member of Surfside Beach board of zoning appeals and the keep Surfside Beach beautiful committee, coordinator Surfside Beach Adopt-A-Beach Program, member and volunteer for South Strand Senior Center and Friends of Surfside Beach Library Newsletter Editor

    Education | B.S. in chemistry from Daemen College, M.S. in environmental sciences from Rutgers University

    Military experience | none

    Contact information | 839-2863 or

    Question | Should the town allow construction of docks on town-owned lakes? Why or why not?

    Answer | It would be irresponsible to make a decision about the construction of docks on town-owned lakes without having the required data and approval from the appropriate federal, state and local agencies. There are too many unanswered questions. Will allowing docks compromise the town’s community rating, and therefore increase FEMA flood insurance rates paid by property owners? I don’t have the data to make an informed and impartial decision. An alternative would be to allow property owners to construct cantilevered decks on their property. The cantilevered deck would extend four to six feet out over the lake. This would provide a flat, level and stable platform for fishing and other recreational uses.

    David Pellegrino

    Age | 42

    Address | 415 Second Ave. N.

    Occupation | small business owner

    Family | married with four sons

    Civic and political experience | Volunteer with Pathways home school co-op, Upward, Live Oak Church, Horry County Rec.

    Education | BS in mechanical engineering from Clemson University, masters in business administration from Webster University

    Military experience | none

    Contact information | 902-6018 or

    Question | Should the town allow construction of docks on town-owned lakes? Why or why not?

    Answer | One of the great reasons that many people come to visit or live in Surfside Beach is the availability of outdoor activities. We have a great beach, safe roads to walk or ride a bike on, and beautiful parks and common areas. A dock is just one other setting for Surfside residents to enjoy their time outside. I do support docks on town-owned lakes. However, a FEMA study must be conducted to ensure that docks would not negatively affect our community flood rating. Also, a review with our insurance provider would be necessary to ensure that all liability would be covered. These study results can help with the creation of the dock standards.

    Rod Smith

    Age | 74

    Address | 515 14th Ave. N.

    Occupation | retired

    Family | married with two sons

    Civic and political experience | Surfside Beach Town Council 2010-2014, Surfside Beach Planning Commission 2007-2010, Horry County Solid Waste Authority Board of Directors 2002-2010; Surfside United Methodist Church member, serving as an usher and on the Committee on Nominations and Leadership Development

    Education | BS and master’s in electrical engineering from University of South Carolina

    Military experience | none

    Contact information | 238-0189 or

    Question | Should the town allow construction of docks on town-owned lakes? Why or why not?

    Answer | I support private property rights. I believe that the residents who own lakefront property should be allowed to build a 12-foot by 12-foot dock. For many residents their property extends into the lake – in some cases as much as 25 feet. I think it is less costly to the town to allow property owners to build new docks and to maintain existing docks, than for the town to build bulk heads to get the lake water off their property or face litigation by lake front property owners.

    Sammy Truett

    Age | 52

    Address | 520 14th Ave. N.

    Occupation | Insurance agent at Moore and Associates Insurance since 1991

    Family | married with two children

    Civic and political experience | served on Surfside Beach Town Council 2000-2010, member of Surfside Beach’s business committee, Myrtle Beach Chamber South Strand Council and Coastal Insurance Council

    Education | high school, twice attended Coastal Carolina University

    Military experience | none

    Contact information | 995-5539 or

    Question | Should the town allow construction of docks on town-owned lakes? Why or why not?

    Answer | Unfortunately, I don’t have enough information to make a responsible decision. First I need to know what the town’s liability would be if we allowed docks on town property. Second, what would FEMA’s opinion be on adding docks to our lakes? FEMA is redrawing our flood maps and our lakes are a critical part of our stormwater plan.

    If you vote

    Polls are open in Surfside Beach from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Surfside United Methodist Church (800 13th Ave. N.) and the Dick M. Johnson Civic Center (829 Pine Drive). Visit for voter information.

  • Inside

    • Biographies and a short question-and-answer session with each candidate | Page 4C

Nine candidates are vying for three Town Council seats in Tuesday’s election in Surfside Beach where chief concerns among the candidates are the town’s finances and council members’ ability to work together.

Incumbents Beth Kohlmann and Rod Smith are seeking re-election. Ann Dodge currently holds the third seat, but is not running for re-election. On the ballot are two former councilmen in Bob Childs and Sammy Truett, in addition to Keith Dame, Sandra Elliott, Carrie Johnson, Ralph Magliette and David Pellegrino.

Childs could not be reached for comment.

Dame and Pellegrino said they are worried about the town’s reputation as “The Family Beach.”

“I grew up in Surfside Beach,” Dame said. “It seems some of the decisions [made by Town Council] are not consistent with the traditional family values that I have.”

He pointed to the parking meters on Ocean Boulevard and said the meters seem to discourage people from coming into town, have no aesthetic value and said he isn’t sure the meters are worth the money deposited in them.

“I don’t understand some of the things that have been done,” he said. “It seems like we are fixing problems that do not exist.”

Pellegrino, Magliette, Johnson and Elliott said Town Council doesn’t seem to cooperate well.

“I’m raising a family in Surfside Beach and I’m not too confident where we are going to be 10 years from now,” Pellegrino said. “There doesn’t seem to be any long-term vision. I think it’s difficult for them to make good decisions when there is so much friction between members, the people and the business owners.”

Johnson, whose husband is Town Councilman Mark Johnson, said she’s not satisfied with the way the council members have led the town.

“I don’t like the way the landscape of our town has changed in the last couple of years,” she said. “I want to bring some civility to council.”

She said there shouldn’t be concerns about her working with her husband on Town Council.

“I am my own person,” she said. “We disagree on issues, but we’ve learned to agree to disagree. I would listen to his argument just as I would anyone else’s.”

Pellegrino said he would encourage civility on Town Council by acting cooperatively and communicating professionally.

Similarly, Magliette said the Town Council is dysfunctional with open animosity preventing anything from getting done. He said there’s no one person to blame, but hopes to make a change as a councilman.

“I’m hoping we could encourage a culture that treats everyone with respect and loving kindness,” he said. “We can agree to disagree and work for the good of the town.”

Elliott, who chairs the town’s stormwater committee and is a member of the planning and zoning commission, said she has concerns about the town’s decision-making process and wants to see more transparency.

Smith said he has been an honest, common sense fiscal conservative for Town Council since being elected four years ago.

“During my four years on Town Council I have worked to find compromises to town problems in an honest, rational and diplomatic process,” he said.

Kohlmann said the council started working better together before the campaign started, and expects cooperation to continue improving.

Smith, unlike Dame, said he supports the town’s current parking program because it is a compromise between prohibiting parking and the unsafe parking that he said was an issue before the meters were installed last summer.

“The parking meters identify the designated parking spaces that are not too close to driveways, beach accesses, the corner or fire hydrants,” he said. “In fact there is less parking on Ocean Boulevard with the meters than before when there was random parking, most cars are now parked in the parking lots.”

Dame said he hopes to foster business on U.S. 17 with an urban development plan. He said the pockets of business could be similar to The Market Common but on a smaller scale.

He also said he would like to see the town address the speed bumps on Surfside Drive in the business district near U.S. 17. Dame said he understands the goal of slowing drivers down, but said drivers avoid the bumps and use residential streets instead.

Pellegrino, Elliott and Smith all said they want to see the town establish savings for beach renourishment. Smith said beach renourishment should be funded by accommodations tax.

Truett, who is chairman of the business committee in town, said he misses serving on Town Council. He previously held office for 10 years.

“It was fun being a part of trying to make Surfside Beach a better place to live,” he said. “We did a lot of things when I was on council – the new fire station, downtown redevelopment, stormwater [improvements], restoring all the ponds and sidewalks. We purchased a pier and started underground wiring. I think there’s more things we can do.”

Truett hopes to return to council to aid in continued development in Surfside Beach.

Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381, or follow her on Twitter @TSN_akelley.

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