Following an election that ended Tuesday night with no clear winners in three races, Surfside Beach councilman Bob Childs was certified Thursday morning as the town’s new mayor.
Childs barely beat incumbent Mayor Doug Samples with a vote of 436 to 431.
Childs was declared the winner in the hotly contested race during a 10 a.m. certification and challenged ballot hearing at town hall. During that hearing, Childs’ votes remained the same while Samples’ total votes changed by one when the seven challenge ballots were revealed.
However, that change was not enough to give the current mayor the threshold of 433.5 votes needed for reelection.
“It is in the best interest I believe for the Town of Surfside Beach to move forward. It was obviously a very close election with Councilman Childs barely meeting the threshold to be determined mayor-elect. I wish him well in that job,” Samples said. “At least in the mayoral race, there will be no challenge so you (Herrmann) do not have to stay until 7 p.m. for me. It has been an honor and privilege to serve the people in this town.”
It is in the best interest I believe for the Town of Surfside Beach to move forward. It was obviously a very close election with Councilman Childs barely meeting the threshold to be determined mayor-elect. I wish him well in that job...It has been an honor and privilege to serve the people in this town.
Surfside Beach Mayor Doug Samples, who lost his bid for re-election
Results for a general election of three council members and a special election to fill an unexpired term ending in May 2018 left open by the death of councilman Ralph Magliette last October will go to run offs.
For those races, certified vote results include:
General Election Candidates | incumbent Mark Johnson, 365; incumbent Mary Beth Mabry, 334; Ron Ott, 309; and incumbent Randle Stevens, 293. A total of 374.8 votes is required to
Special Election Candidates | Vicki W. Blair, 230; and Tim Courtney, 301. A total of 400.5 votes is required to win.
The incumbents are facing terms that expire in May. The runoff will be for four-year terms that will expire in May 2020.
Town Clerk Debra Herrmann said 24.9 percent of the town’s 3,517 registered voters voted in the mayoral race, a percentage she said is high for any town. Any candidate wishing to protest the election must bring their protest in writing to the town clerk’s office by a 7 p.m. deadline Thursday.
A runoff election will be held April 19 for both the general and special elections Town Council terms. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for Surfside Beach residents to vote.
Since Childs currently serves on town council, he must resign to accept the position of mayor but plans to remain on council until that time. With his inauguration set for May 10, the date for the special election to fill his council seat would be set in August, Herrmann said. The exact date will be set for 13 weeks after the date he resigns.
During an open floor session for public questions and input prior to the closing of Thursday’s hearing, Surfside Beach resident Al Lauer questioned why write-in candidate votes, one in the name of Mickey Mouse, were not part of the total vote count, saying it should be a matter of free speech.
Election commission member Judy Tuttle and Herrmann said they had “spent considerable time” with the town’s attorney on Wednesday to ensure they followed the law.
Herrmann said there are specific laws governing write-in candidates and if a vote is cast for someone who is not qualified as a candidate, that vote is not counted. Also, because Mickey Mouse does not live in Surfside Beach and is not on the voter registry, that vote is not a qualified vote.
Samples, who has served 14 years on town council with the last four as mayor, announced during the hearing that he would not contest the close race.
I want to thank Mr. Doug Samples for all his years of service to the town. We are friends and we will remain friends.
Mayor-elect Bob Childs
Following the close of the hearing, Childs said he is “overwhelmed and thrilled that the citizens of Surfside Beach gave me the honor of serving as mayor.”
Childs credits his wife Nancy’s support for helping make the win possible. He also had nice words to say about Samples.
“I want to thank Mr. Doug Samples for all his years of service to the town. We are friends and we will remain friends,” Childs said. He said he and Samples will continue to work together on upcoming town board meetings until he takes the seat as mayor.
Angela Nicholas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.