Horry County Council Chairwoman Liz Gilland announced during the council meeting Tuesday - the first day of elections filing - that she will not seek re-election for council this year.
Gilland, who has served as chairwoman for eight years, has said for several weeks that she was unsure whether she would run for re-election despite two of her fellow council members announcing plans to campaign for her seat.
"Once I took the time to ask, I realized that this is not the time for me to run again. I struggled with it because quite honestly I was ready for it. I think I could beat Howard Barnard," she said. "Horry County politics has gotten as ugly as I have ever seen it. I don't have the stomach for it. I was appalled by what happened in the election in Myrtle Beach."
Candidate filing overall was strong on the first day of filing with 25 Republicans filing for federal, Horry County and Georgetown County offices. Two Democrats filed in Horry County.
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All of the Republican incumbents for state representative filed for re-election Tuesday including Reps. Alan Clemmons, Nelson Hardwick, George Hearn, Tracy Edge, Thad Viers and Liston Barfield. Former solicitor and Conway attorney Bert von Herrmann filed for District 68 as a challenger against Viers. In Georgetown County, Kevin Ryan filed with the Republican party to run against incumbent Democrat Vida Miller in District 108.
"We were very, very busy. We opened for filing at noon and by 1 p.m. we had 11 folks who had filed. I think when it's all said and done, we could have 35 or 40 candidates for 21 seats," said Horry County Republican Party Chairman Robert Rabon. "I'm glad we have some good candidates who are willing to run for office."
Rabon said six candidates filed for Horry County School Board races including incumbents Chairman Will Garland, and members Joe DeFeo, Pam Timms and Neil James. County Airport Advisory Committee member Blaine Garren filed to challenge Timms in District 6, and Karen McIlrath filed as a challenger in District 2.
Seven candidates also filed for Horry County Council, including incumbents District 2 Councilman Brent Schulz, District 8 Councilman Carl Schwartzkopf and District 11 Councilman Al Allen. U.A. Johnson filed to challenge Allen, and John Abercrombie filed to challenge Schwartzkopf. Current Councilman Howard Barnard was the first to file for Gilland's seat as chairman. Robert Palmer was the first to file for Barnard's open District 5 seat.
"I like to get out of the gate quickly. In my former life in New Jersey I did a lot of public service work. I enjoy serving the community and hopefully I'll be able to do that here. This is my new home, and I want to be involved and serve the public here," Palmer said.
Deirdre Edmonds also filed for re-election for probate judge.
In Georgetown County, Barry McCall filed for Georgetown County Council District 6. No Democrats filed for local Georgetown offices Tuesday.
Filing at the state Democratic and Republican Party headquarters was slow on the first day, despite more than a dozen candidates announcing plans to run for the District 1 Congressional seat left open by Rep. Henry Brown, who plans to retire at the end of this session. None of the three Democratic candidates had filed by late in the day Tuesday, and only one Republican candidate had filed with the state party for that seat.
Clark Parker, an Horry County accountant and a former Coastal Carolina University trustee, filed with the S.C. Republican Party.
"I wanted to be the first one to file since I was the last one in the race. I want to make sure everybody knows I'm serious," he said. "I've been running hard, and I think it's coming together. I've been talking to residents and they have concerns about how things are running in this country. The No. 1 concern is jobs ... and I hope to work for that."
Solicitor Greg Hembree also filed his paperwork for re-election Tuesday.
For the Democrats, Horry County Councilman James Frazier filed for re-election Tuesday as well as Horry County School Board member Paul Hudson.
Candidate filing will continue through noon on March 30. The primary election will be June 8 and the general election will be Nov. 2.