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Horry County fixture finds contest; Trash splits hopefuls in council race

Two Republicans with different backgrounds are vying for the Horry County Council seat in District 8, which covers much of Conway and a small portion of Carolina Forest.

Challenger John Abercrombie is running against seven-year incumbent Carl Schwartzkopf, and each is approaching the seat from a different perspective. One is running on his continued service to the county, while the other is running on the idea that voters want a change in county government.

Read more previews of state and local primary races

Abercrombie is involved in a lawsuit where two private waste hauling and dumping firms are suing Horry County over its new trash laws that prohibit trash from being dumped outside the county. He said he is running because voters want a change in leadership and direction. He said he can bring a better working relationship with the county's state House delegation and more willingness to work with city governments.

Schwartzkopf, who retired from teaching the day he took office seven years ago, said he considers himself a full-time councilman and said he will continue to be responsive and available to residents at all hours. Schwartzkopf also said he stands by his council record of being able to work with other councilmen including being a force for compromise on the administrator search and other divisive issues, and his history of working well with both the state and federal delegations.

No Democratic candidate filed to run for the seat, so the winner of the June 8 Republican primary will go on to take office in January,

Question | With expectations for county budgets in the next few years being dire, what plans do you have to eitherincrease revenue or decrease spending?

Abercrombie | I believe there needs to be an independent audit of our structure of county government to make sure we are not overstaffed in our administrative areas. This will allow us to get the money in the hands of the essential service personnel and closer to the constituency. I also believe we have to take a realistic look at what our county government should and should not be providing. Once this is done we can look at our funding and whether it is adequate.

Schwartzkopf | With the current economic conditions that many citizens are experiencing in Horry County, raising taxes is not an option at this time or in the near future. Therefore, some thought will have to be given to reducing some services, charging a fee for other services and reconsidering priorities to decrease spending.

Q. | How do you plan to handle zoning and traffic issues in the areas surrounding Coastal Carolina University or to better deal with town/gown relations?

Abercrombie | With the amount of traffic Singleton Ridge Road carries, we need a central turn lane there to allow easy access to neighborhoods and businesses. Postal Way needs to be extended and tied in as well. All these projects will take cooperation with [the S.C. Department of Transportation] and the local delegation. I can provide that cooperative spirit.

Schwartzkopf | Zoning issues have been addressed with an overlay district, several committees consisting of members from CCU, public safety, homeowners and investors are meeting frequently to resolve enforcement and other issues as they occur. This is an ongoing effort. An attempt to improve traffic flow will happen after Aug. 2 when a roundabout is constructed on University Boulevard.

Q. | What plans do you have for job creation in the county and what can the council do to make that happen?

Abercrombie | I think we need to source out businesses that meet the needs of the community and the skill sets of our workforce. I am in favor of making this a small business haven for the state; 30 companies with 20 employees equates to 600 employees. If you lose one of those companies you have only lost 3 percent of the jobs created, and the tax breaks you have to offer the larger companies are non-existent with the smaller companies. We can also utilize office space already in place to house these businesses.

Schwartzkopf | Presently the council is in the process of restructuring the economic development organization. After restructuring, it is important that the private sector and government develop a strong symbiotic relationship to encourage the expansion of existing businesses and the relocation of new businesses. Businesses locating in Horry County need to know that they have the support of local elected officials.

Q. | Where do you stand on the county's flow control laws that control where county trash can be dumped and why?

Abercrombie | The legal opinions I have read describe [the county's flow control law] as a revenue grab by a quasi-governmental agency using a very specific decision involving an authority created by state law in New York State for its justification. We have S.C. state law that was not consulted. Very little has changed at Horry County Solid Waste Authority since its implementation except for an addition of $225,000 in administrative salaries. They need to decide whether their purpose is to provide the services they were created to provide, or to provide salaries to a top heavy administration.

Schwartzkopf | The Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court wrote the ruling regarding flow control stating that in order to keep the price of trash at the lowest possible cost to the citizens the county may enact a flow control ordinance to maintain control and cost of trash disposal. Horry County has passed a flow control ordinance to protect citizens from private industries which could monopolize the industry and increase the cost of trash disposal.

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