Horry County Councilman Carl Schwartzkopf said Monday he will not be seeking re-election in November.
Schwartzkopf, a retired U.S. Navy veteran who spent the last 11 years on council, is known for his deep, booming made-for-radio voice, who seemed to have an analogy or quote for just about any situation Horry County was facing and who was criticized early on for looking out for the best for Horry County and not just his district. The former golf course management professor at Coastal Carolina University and Horry Georgetown Technical College often used his love for his alma mater, Michigan State University, as a way to break away from the often serious county business conversations to a little bit of trash talking.
Schwartzkopf said Monday it’s just time to hang it up.
“It’s really been a privilege to serve not only the citizens of District 8 but also the citizens all over Horry County,” he said, adding he wasn’t afraid to step out of the district and look out for the county as a whole. “As a result, I had a lot of people who would contact me from Surfside and North Myrtle Beach regarding issues, because they knew I looked at the big picture.”
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He represents District 8, which runs along S.C. 90 where U.S. 501 Business meets, and then down along S.C. 544 until it heads southeast on Jackson Bluff Road. It heads around Thorofare Island to where S.C. 544 and S.C. 31 meet. His district stretches down to Burcale Road and along the railroad tracks northeast of U.S. 501 to Gardner Lacy and covering much of the Carolina Forest community.
Schwartzkopf was elected to Horry County Council in a special election in January 2004. Since that time he has served on the Infrastructure and Regulation committee and has been the chairman for the last five years, according to the county’s website. He has served on the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. for three terms and two as its vice-chairman, according to the county.
“Carl’s been a champion of economic development and a great ally,” said Brad Lofton, president of the economic development corporation. “He has worked very closely with us as we re-organized the EDC. I am proud to have served with him and wish him the best as he moves on to greater things.”
Schwartzkopf is the author of three books related to golf course management.
He is a U.S. Navy veteran whose tour of duty included service prior to the Cuban missile crisis to the Vietnam conflict, which is what Council Chairman Mark Lazarus said really helps define who Schwartzkopf is.
“As far as working with Carl on the political side, he’s not a political machine,” Lazarus said. He just pays attention to the issues and Carl does what he feels is the right thing to do and I think that comes from his Naval background.”
Lazarus said he thought well enough of Schwartzkopf to name him chairman of the county’s Infrastructure and Regulation committee.
“I think Carl’s done an outstanding job for his district and for the county,” Lazarus said. “He studies the issues and understands them. He’s been an excellent council member to work with.”
Both Lazarus and Schwartzkopf have been known to lighten the mood of a meeting, bantering back and forth about Schwartkopf’s Michigan State Spartans and Lazarus’ University of North Carolina Tar Heels.
It’s been a part of who Schwartzkopf has been on the council. He’s also known for a few other things, said former council Chairwoman Liz Gilland.
“Carl could always come up with an analogy for anything. For anything,” Gilland said. “You’d give him any example in the world, and he can come up with an analogy that will either make you laugh out loud or roll your eyes and then laugh.”
And a voice that can resonate any point he was trying to make.
“He probably has the best voice that has ever been on council,” Gilland said with a laugh. “He’s got that big strong booming voice that sounds so good. It always makes him sound smart even if he’s saying something that isn’t so smart.”
Regardless of whether Gilland and Schwartzkopf agreed or not, Gilland said she respected the job he did for the county.
“He’s a good man,” Gilland said. “He cared about the job. Everything he did, he did well. Carl has been a dedicated council member. He didn’t miss meetings. He didn’t miss workshops. He was just an outstanding council member. He worked hard at it.”
Schwartzkopf was known for swearing off tax increases for all but one reason – public safety.
“The only time I ever voted for a tax increase was for policemen and firemen and for police stations and fire stations. Other than that, I never voted for a tax increase.”
And his reason was clear.
“My philosophy is this: I try to minimize the amount of money I send to Columbia... and I try to minimize the money I send to Washington, D.C., because the more money they got, the more money they’re going to spend,” he said. “So I want to send them as little amount of money as I can to make them better managers.”
He said he feels the county has been better throughout the last 10 years at managing the money it is required to handle, and referenced a paraphrased quote to get his point across.
“You have to remember the words of Benjamin Franklin: what is good and what is best for the majority of the citizens, forgetting special interest groups,” Schwartzkopf said.
Ask Schwartzkopf and he says there’s something else that made him stand out.
“I listened,” he said. “A lot of times, the citizens just want to vent. They really do. And I’ve been known to sit there on that phone and do nothing but listen for five, six, to seven minutes.”
As for the Tuesday nights usually spent in council chamber, don’t expect politics to be the only thing on his mind.
“I’m sure that on Tuesday nights, I’ll be sitting in the recliner and watching council meetings for a little while,” he said. “And then I’ll realize that on Tuesday night’s NCIS comes on, and being a Navy person, I still enjoy watching NCIS, saying, ‘Ya, I was there.’”