Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes and the other three city councilmen up for re-election this fall want to keep their seats.
Rhodes and councilmen Wayne Gray, Mike Lowder and Randal Wallace all have expressed their intent to run for re-election. Their terms are due to expire this year. Only one person, former Myrtle Beach mayoral candidate Keith Van Winkle, has announced plans to run for one of the three City Council spots.
The filing period for those interested in running for Myrtle Beach City Council begins Aug. 22 -- 75 days before the election. The filing period ends Sept. 9, which is 60 days before the Nov. 5 election.
Most expect more candidates to come forward as the filing season approaches. Gray said he thinks most people are focusing on getting through the busy summer season and any potential candidates would likely make a definitive decision to run after Labor Day.
Being proud of what’s been accomplished while recognizing there’s more to be done, while wanting to be part of those developments, was something all four elected officials said made them decide to run for re-election.
“I enjoy serving the people of the city of Myrtle Beach,” Lowder said, who is finishing his first term on council. “A lot has been accomplished these four years.”
All four pointed to the completion of the Myrtle Beach boardwalk and promenade and the redevelopment downtown as things they are proud the city accomplished and hope to continue to work on.
“I want to be around if we expand the boardwalk and for the convention center expansion,” Wallace said. If re-elected in November, he would be serving a fourth term. “It’s an exciting time to be in Myrtle Beach.”
Rhodes has said he aims to extend the boardwalk from its current 1.2 miles to 4.6 miles, making it the longest in the world. To reach the 4.6 miles that Rhodes is seeking, the boardwalk would extend two miles south to Springmaid Pier and another mile north, Mike Wooten of DDC Engineers and designer of the boardwalk told The Sun News in November.
The city would need to find a company or companies that would pick up the tab for the project, in exchange for putting their name on it. The project is estimated to cost about $20 million. Rhodes said he has yet to get a company to sign on.
“I’m not giving up, though,” he said.
Rhodes said he received clearance to run for re-election from the doctors who repaired a bleeding brain aneurysm in December.
“I’m good to go,” he said. “The doctors said there are no after effects. I’m one of the 1 percent that walks out without any side effects.”
Gray, who is serving his third term since first being elected to council in 1997, also pointed to improvements made at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium and Ashley Booth Field as a point of pride. He was not in office from 2001 to 2005.
“I want to be part of the long-term effort to continue to make Myrtle Beach a vibrant place to live, to work and to raise a family,” he said.
If elected to a third term, Rhodes would be the first mayor to receive the higher mayor’s salary that council approved a year ago to take effect with the mayor elected in November. The annual salary jumps from $20,000 a year to $50,000 a year.
“With all of the time that is required of the mayor of Myrtle Beach to do all of the commitments that need to be done, it’s a full-time position,” he said. “The mayor is the ambassador of Myrtle Beach.”
All of the incumbents said it seemed to be a quieter pre-election season than previous years, noting that by this point in the year there were at a least a few potential candidates being mentioned around town.
“I’d like to think it’s because people think we’re doing a good job,” Lowder said. “But I’d be very surprised if it stays this way.”
This is Van Winkle’s fourth attempt at serving in public office. In 2008 he ran unsuccessfully for Horry County Council against Councilman Marion Foxworth. In 2009, he ran for Myrtle Beach mayor, but dropped out of the race.
In 2010 he attempted again to run for County Council but was kicked off the ballot because he was one of 16 Horry County Republican candidates who failed to file a statement of economic interest by the required deadline.
In a May interview, Van Winkle told The Sun News he believed the current council needed to reassess what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to governing a city.
He said his main concern is ridding the city of crime.
“I believe [new candidates] will get a mandate from the voters to make bold changes,” he said in May.
Former Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride -- both of whom have been mentioned around town as possible candidates -- said they had no intention to run for the office this fall.