The incumbent in the Pawleys Island-based Georgetown County Council District 6 wants another term to continue working on economic development, while his challenger seeks to turn the community in the right way at what he sees as a crossroad.
Bob Anderson, 69, who has been on the council four years, says economic development will lift all boats by helping the unemployed and spreading the tax burden.
Challenger Steve Goggans, 60, is a political newcomer, but as an architect has been involved in much of the growth and its issues in his 30 years in business in Pawleys Island.
The two will face off in the June 10 Republican primary. No Democrat is running so the winner of the primary is likely to take office.
The county currently has an economy largely dependent on tourism, with its old manufacturing base having declined in recent years, Anderson said.
“But we are blessed with this port that is underutilized,” he said.
Anderson said he is working with local, state and national officials to get the money to repair the channel and to recruit new users for the port. An active port can bring jobs and stimulate other economic growth around it, he said.
As a Republican, he wants to cut taxes but also finds it a constant struggle to do that and also provide proper county services, Anderson said. He also represents part of the area that pays most of the property taxes.
Waccamaw Neck’s share of property taxes has ballooned to just over 70 percent, compared with years past when manufacturing led revenue intake in the county.
Anderson said he was in manufacturing and watched it decline, but that planning for the future and working to meet its new demands, along with luring existing industry here, is a way to improve the local economy.
Tax money is necessary to provide basic services such as police and fire, Anderson said.
“For me, my most important job is the safety of the citizens of Georgetown County,” he said.
Goggans said the quality of life in the area is his concern, and that does include funds for public safety. He said he is concerned about continuing losses of firefighters and police officers because of low pay, and that the county is losing money because it pays to train them.
But what really drew him into politics after years of involvement in growth-oriented issues such as the group Don’t Strip the Neck is a plan to pave the medians along much of Ocean Highway (U.S. 17) in the Pawleys Island section.
The plan includes U-turn lanes where motorists can cross instead of freely making left turns anywhere, as the existing layout allows. The intent is to make the busy road safer for turning but Goggans says it will have the opposite effect.
He said he and others have paid for engineering and traffic studies on the system and can show that it will cause more difficulty than it will solve. It also has not been used in a community quite like Pawleys Island, he said.
The system will work well for people traveling through from Myrtle Beach to Charleston, but will cause problems for people who live in the area, Goggans said.
He said he and opponents came up with an alternative but the council has said it will not consider it. He said Anderson, whose voice on the issue is key because he represents the area on the council, has declined to meet with opponents to look at their plans and supporting studies.
The median issue is just one example of poor planning for the future, Goggans said. Growth will come, but it can be managed better than it is being managed, he said. He points to Mount Pleasant as an example of a community that has seen explosive growth but maintains a quality of life for residents and visitors.
Goggans said he may not be able to change the median plan if elected, but that “I have to think that my getting elected is going to make a statement,” and will show there is community support for an alternative.
Quality of life isn’t just a perk, it has economic impact, he said. If the quality of life degrades, so will property values, tourism and the tax base.
The county is now at a tipping point, or crossroad, where it could go to the unpleasant side on growth, or can find a way to make it liveable, Goggans said. He said he believes that his skills and experience in planning will help the county go the right way.