Myrtle Beach has elected its first female mayor as Brenda Bethune beat incumbent John Rhodes during Tuesday’s runoff election.
Bethune had 3559 votes, compared to Rhodes’ 1725 with all precincts reporting, according to unofficial election results.
Bethune won every precinct, with big victories at Dunes 1 — Bethune winning 557-436 — and Jetport 2 — 788-241.
On Nov. 7, Bethune and Rhodes faced Ed Carey, former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride and C.D. Rozsa. Bethune and Rhodes had the two highest votes, but because neither candidate received over 50 percent of the vote plus one, a runoff election was required.
Key issues surrounding the campaigns include public safety — after a high-profile shooting on Ocean Boulevard that injured several people — and the future of the Superblock properties.
There are proposed plans to tear down the Superblock properties to potentially make way for a new children’s museum and library. What should replace the Superblock properties has been a hot-button topic.
Bethune believes that the Myrtle Beach Police Department needs more officers; however, the police academy does not produce enough officers to fill the department fast enough. In the meantime she hopes to put hospitality officers on the streets in order to increase police presence in neighborhoods and work to bring a police academy to Myrtle Beach.
For the Superblock properties, Bethune wants to close Main Street to vehicles to create space for restaurants and apartments. She wants to make the downtown area the “heartbeat” of Myrtle Beach.
Rhodes wanted to stick with Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock’s plan that will bring 70 new officers to the department over seven years.
He originally planned to tear down the Superblock properties for a new children’s museum and library, but Rhodes recently stated that council is not sure what will replace the properties.
Rhodes won election in 2005, 2009 and again in 2013.
On Nov. 7 two new city council members along with one incumbent were voted into office. Jackie Vereen, Greg Smith and incumbent Mike Lowder ran against Ann A. Dunham, Keith VanWinkle, incumbent Randal Wallace, Mike Hobeika, Matthew Hardee and Brooks Myers.
Bethune will be sworn into office Jan. 9.