Vote 2023: A guide to elections in Lexington, Cayce, West Columbia and beyond

Posted 10/27/23

It’s time to decide who will represent you on a local level, Lexington County.

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Vote 2023: A guide to elections in Lexington, Cayce, West Columbia and beyond


It’s time to decide who will represent you on a local level, Lexington County.

This year’s municipal election on Nov. 7 features competitive races for an array of town/city council seats across the county, along with high-profile battles for mayoral seats in some of the county’s biggest municipalities.

In South Carolina, voters are required to register 30 days before Election Day online or in person and can register online so long as it’s postmarked at least 30 days before the election.

You can check your registration status at

In-person absentee voting in South Carolina was replaced in 2021 with a two-week early voting period. Any voter can visit an early-voting location in their county and vote like they would at their polling place on Election Day. Voters will be asked to present a photo ID when checking in. Early voting for the Nov. 7 election will take place Oct. 24-Nov. 3, with Lexington County voters able to cast ballots early at the Lexington County Registration & Elections Office (605 West Main St., Lexington, Room 130).

Those looking to vote on election day can confirm their polling place by checking out the precinct list at

Mayoral Races

The four largest municipalities in Lexington County — with the exception of Columbia, which mostly sits in Richland County — have mayoral seats up for grabs.

The seat in the Town of Lexington will for sure change hands, as Steve MacDougall decided not to seek another term. Hazel Livingston, who has long served as mayor-pro tem, seems assured to win the seat, as she is running unopposed.

Mayor David Reese is also running unopposed in the small town of Summit.

West Columbia

Tem Miles

West Columbia Mayor Tem Miles points firmly to his accomplishments in explaining why he should be given a second term.

“I look forward to the people of West Columbia having an opportunity to make a choice and a decision. And that choice and decision is simple,” he previously told the Chronicle. “If they believe that over the last 10 years, the city of West Columbia's improvement has been a good thing, then I'm the experienced leader to continue that on. If they believe that it hasn't been a good thing, then it's probably time for a change.”

Miles was elected to Town Council in 2013 before winning the vote in 2019 to become mayor. His emphasis in his campaign is the investments the city has seen under his leadership, pointing to both infrastructure improvements such as drainage and water supply and the steady wave of private development the city has seen in recent years.

“Growth and development certainly requires additional infrastructure, but the growth and development also provides additional resources and activity, which generates revenue that allows us to make those investments. So it's a cycle,” he said. “But along with the continued investment that you have to make for the growth and development, the growth and development then gives you a return that allows you to continue to make investments and improvements.”

Miles emphasized that the city with him as mayor has always kept citizens at the fore when approaching that growth and development.

“We have a planning commission. We have public meetings,” he said. “And we take those recommendations into consideration whenever we’re doing those development deals.”

Melissa Sprouse Browne

Melissa Sprouse Browne, the mayoral challenger who hasn’t previously held public office, claims that West Columbia is struggling with gun violence, gang problems, property crime and drugs.

“Supporting our law enforcement and first responders is so important to protect our citizens,” Browne recently told the Chronicle. “Ensuring the availability of resources and continuing education is a high priority.”

Miles told the Chronicle that gun violence, gang problems, property crime and drugs are issues everywhere right now, adding that the city has partnered with the DEA and ATF over the last several years to ensure that criminals get locked up and sent to federal courts so that they don’t immediately get released back onto the city streets.
Miles also noted that the city has invested in a ShotSpotter system, which immediately identifies the location and occurrence of gunfire so that police are able to respond quickly.
“We've taken the hard step at the City Council to properly provide the needed resources for our first responders so they can keep our city safe,” he said. “We've properly supported, staffed and resourced our first responders and we look forward to continuing to do that as we go forward.”
In the past, she has emphasized that her experience on the city’s Beautification Foundation gives her the perspective to make sure the city is developing responsibly, emphasizing that these efforts should hit other areas beyond the River District along the Congaree River, the dining and nightlife hub that has seen a lot of changes in recent years.
Browne has also complained of tax hikes in the city and the impacts those have on residents, particularly seniors.

She added in a recent interview that she feels the city failed to properly engage the public to get their input on a proposed pedestrian bridge, set to cross the Saluda River and connect the Saluda Riverwalk in Columbia to Mohawk Drive next to the Botanical Gardens entrance to the Riverbanks Zoo & Gardens.

“The timing of the project announcement is interesting, as the beginning of the project is likely three years away,” she said. “There is clearly time for additional input before the project begins and it would be better to gain a fuller picture of the needs of the neighborhood before committing resources to a project like this one.”

Browne claimed that concerns with the bridge include increased traffic and the potential for crime, mentioning that the plan for restrooms on the West Columbia side will “virtually guarantee the presence of additional people on our side of the river.”

Miles told the Chronicle that the neighborhoods have been consulted and that they are “overwhelmingly in support” of the project. He added that the project itself is at the very beginning stages, mentioning that there will be more opportunities for stakeholders and the public’s input as the project moves forward.

“We just haven't reached that point yet,” he said.


Elise Partin

Partin told the Chronicle that she ran for re-election because she wants to continue to serve her city.

When asked about her goals for a potential new term she stated she doesn’t think in terms of goals, as that is more like a campaign promise.

“I'm going to continue to serve and to take care of our city to make sure that we have the lowest taxes and fees while we really invest in our citizens and invest in our infrastructure,” Partin said. “But we are working on a number of things.”

Partin touched on how Cayce did a study of Black cemeteries that had been forgotten by the city, working with the families of the descendants so that the city could take care of the cemeteries. She mentioned the 12,000 Year History Park’s coming addition of a visitors center for that area, saying the National Park Service is already involved in the program.

The incumbent told the Chronicle that none of what Cayce has accomplished have been things that she can do by herself.

If she is not reelected, Partin said she hopes the city will continue with the same integrity and ethics that she helped build, and continue the same investments in itself and make sure citizens have a voice.

Abbott "Tre" Bray

Bray told the Chronicle that he decided to run for mayor to make Cayce a better place to live, work and raise a family, adding that being mayor for 19 years, as Partin has, is too long.

“We need fresh ideas and perspectives to responsibly harness the full potential of Cayce’s economic development and to bring the voice back to our amazing residents,” Bray said. “I know what it takes to create an organization with a culture of continuous improvement, communication, and customer service.”

“Cayce needs this type of culture to reach its fullest potential,” he added.

If elected, Bray said some of his goals include having recurring town halls across all Cayce districts to re-align constituents with their council members and to hear concerns, feedback and ideas. He said he also wants to establish 12-year municipal term limits, lower barriers for businesses across the city, increase revenues without raising taxes, modernize parks and enhance public safety, and update the city's “one size fits all” residential zoning ordinances.

“My biggest goal is getting people brought back into our City, and the way we do that is transparency,” Bray said.

The challenger grew up in Cayce and served 12 years in the State National Guard and currently manages a program across all 54 States and Territories providing Substance Abuse and Suicide prevention services. He has served on the Lexington County School District 2 Board of Trustees since 2020.


Barry Walker

Walker has held the position of mayor for the town of nearly 12,000 for four years, extending his service to the town as a public official, which spans almost two decades. Mayor Pro-Tem Bill Danielson, who has filed to run against him for mayor on Nov. 7, has been on council since 2020.

“I've been on council. I've seen the transition between two mayors,” Walker previously said. “My vision, my passion, my vision is solid. Personally, I want to leave Irmo better than I found it when I first became a council member.”

Walker had told the Chronicle he is seeking another term to truly start implementing his plans for the town, as the country was hit with the COVID-19 pandemic three months into his first term.

The incumbent emphasized that as a brand-new mayor he had to deal with COVID and its aftermath, and didn’t get to start implementing his ideas until 2021. These ideas included adding multiple committees in an effort to help the town’s residents become more involved in their government, helping shape proposed initiatives such as an expanded events calendar, a dog park and a skatepark.

Walker said he wants to experience a full four-year term without a pandemic shutting down the town for two years, adding that he would like to see multiple large-scale projects through.

Some projects that Walker would like to see come to fruition are the construction of a new town hall, the competition of Rawls Creek Park, and the expansion of Broad River Road.

The mayor said he and Danielson have similarities – including the choice to run from a safe council seat for mayor, which Walker did when he first won the town’s top job. The mayor stated that Danielson has nothing to lose, adding that he himself wouldn't let a current mayor run unopposed.

Walker said that Danielson is a great council member and brings a lot of ideas to the table, adding that they may not always agree on things, but that isn’t a bad thing.

As to how the sitting mayor will run, Walker told the Chronicle that he will use his resume as mayor and as a council member to highlight what he has accomplished in the town.

“I am excited about the direction that the town is going. I mean, if you go and look on Google, pull up Irmo, you'll see some great things, good news stories coming out of our community,” Walker said. “It wasn't like that four years ago. We had stories coming in our community but they were bad.”

Bill Danielson

Danielson is nearing the end of his first term on town council and is now taking the plunge for the mayoral seat. He is running for mayor  from a “safe seat,” as his term doesn’t expire until 2025.

The mayor pro-tem previously told the Chronicle that he is running for a variety of reasons, one being that he feels like he has the vision to make Irmo an even better place to live and do business.

He said he has some concerns with threats to the town’s quality of life.

“Rising crime is affecting all of us and as mayor I will lead the way in supporting our police and first responders with every tool required to get the job done,” he said.

Danielson stated that he would do this by hiring new people, offering competitive compensation packages, acquiring updated vehicles and equipment, training, and adding license plate readers and personal identification cameras areas hit hardest by crime.  

When it comes to businesses within the town, Danielson said it’s the mayor's responsibility to support local businesses and to help them grow. He pointed to town residents not paying a millage tax leading to the town being supported by business license fees along with hospitality and accommodations taxes.  

“It should be a top priority for the mayor to make sure businesses of all sizes thrive in our town,” he emphasized.

Danielson said the town is living in uncertain times, and he wants to bring a fiscally conservative approach to council. He added that the future success of the town is dependent on its ability to “tighten our belt,” prioritizing spending and saving money for a rainy day.

“As mayor, I will continue to work closely with council members and put the citizens of Irmo first,” he told the Chronicle.


Hazel Livingston

“I just feel like I have a few things to offer and that I would like to give it a shot and see if I can bring the town and citizens together,” Lexington Mayor Pro-Tem Hazel Livingston previously said of why she’s running to have that second part of her title removed..

When reflecting on how her time as mayor pro-tem has helped her prepare for being mayor — which she almost assuredly will, given that she’s running unopposed — Livingston said it helped her earn the respect of her council members, which she believes she has the majority of support from in this election.

“I have history,” she said. “I've served through three mayor's and I see good in all of them and I've learned from all of them, and I’m just hoping I take what I've learned from them into the future and do a great job.”

Livingston has served in her role as mayor pro-tem since 2004 and on council since 1998, having played a major role in town beautification efforts and leading the development of multiple parks, including the currently expanding Virginia Hylton Park. She was directly responsible for the formation of the Lexington Beautification Foundation.

Talking about her priorities, Livingston has put a heavy focus on communication and transparency with citizens, something Town Council has been criticized for lacking in recent months. She recently told the Chronicle that open and frequent communication is essential to keeping citizens informed about important happenings in the town’s development, policies and initiatives.

Among her other stated priorities is traffic, an ongoing issue within the town, which Livingston said must continue as an emphasis for council since the town continues to experience rapid growth. She has also empahsized keeping citizens safe, preserving green space, managing growth and the town's vision plan.

Council Races


The Town of Lexington has three at-large seats up for grabs, as incumbents Todd Lyle, Kathy Maness, and Mayor Pro-Tem Hazel Livingston finish their terms. Lyle filed for re-election, while Maness isn’t and Livingston is running for mayor.

Todd Lyle

Todd Lyle told the Chronicle that he is running for re-election because he wants to help ensure that Lexington continues to lead in all the various categories of being an amazing place to raise a family, work, or start a small business.

Lyle’s stated goals for another term include traffic, which he stated is the top issue, ensuring better collaboration between the various government entities to have a have synergistic planning and decision-making processes, a measured effort to settle litigation with the City of West Columbia to keep money in the taxpayer’s pockets, and lastly for the town to do better at outwardly communicating the important details and relevant information to its citizen.

“We also owe it to the citizens to adopt a more comprehensive form of communication with residents involving issues that are relevant to the community,” he said. “This could take the form of my robust social media, telephone or texting opt-in type of systems that better provide real time information to citizens regarding traffic, construction, council agendas, and other board meetings, etc.”

If he is not re-elected, Lyle said hopes to see council stay committed to the vision plan and execute the goals surrounding responsible growth with a mind towards ensuring traffic is managed as best as possible.

Will Allen

Will Allen, co-owner of local restaurant Mama Rabbits Nibbles and Sips, has been a town resident for 10 years.

Allen previously told the Chronicle that the way Smallwood Cove, a failed 93.53-acre lakeside development proposed earlier this year, was handled was a deciding factor in his decision to run. He said that he along with members of the community he has spoken to don’t want the town to become a tourist destination, mentioning that there is no need to artificially inflate population when the town is already bursting at the seams.

The restaurant owner said he is a born-again Christian who would like to share the gospel, saying council would give him a platform to talk and give his testimony. 

Allen said that from a more managerial standpoint, he would like to preserve liberty and freedom and limit government as much as possible, with one goal being to rid the town of its current 2% hospitality tax.

When it comes to what he would bring to council, Allen said he is a different type of person than what the council currently has, adding that he is not a white collar professional and has no interest in terms of real estate.

He said due to his experience with his restaurant, where he often serves as the front-of-house manager/cashier, he has a firm grasp on what the people in the town are looking for.

“I will be honest, I'm not a politician. I've never wanted to be a politician. I have no ego when it comes to that world,” he previously told the Chronicle. “I'm running because I want to be a servant and I know that the people who don't seek power are the people who should fill those roles.”

Greg Brewer

Greg Brewer was among the more vocal residents when it came to speaking out against Smallwood Cove, founding the group Save Lexington SC in response. 

He said he wants to run to limit government and prevent overreach.

When asked what his priorities are, Brewer shared five: balance, being open with the public, teamwork, development, and community improvement.

He said he wants to focus on concerns brought by citizens, which are often traffic congestion, infrastructure and road-related issues, saying cutting down on congestion would improve residents’ quality of life.

“The residents and businesses deserve better,” he previously stated. “We need deeper, regular cooperation across the town and county leadership teams, residents, local businesses and schools.”

“More teamwork means the best ideas, results and cost saving,” he added. 

Brewer has said there are a lot of people who have good ideas but feel as though their voices don’t matter or won’t be heard. He added that this covers a large demographic from young to older, long-term retired residents.

He said that you can’t keep pounding everything into the town center and congesting the major arteries, mentioning that Smallwood Cove would have created total gridlock between U.S. Highway 378/Sunset Boulevard and Harbison.

“I think you have to begin to look at, you know, where are the other hubs of growth and look at facilitating and incentivizing businesses, people entrepreneurially minded to open up businesses in those areas, versus having everything right here,” he said.

Brewer said Lexington’s Main Street needs to continue to be stabilized and developed, adding that one side of the street looks strong while the under is under-developed in comparison.

“It could be just a crowning achievement and really be wonderful,” he said.

Matthew Graham

Matthew Graham is running for Town Council for a second time this year.

He made his first run for a council seat in the May special election to fill the seat vacated by Steve Baker, who moved out of state. That election installed Gavin Smith as the body’s newest member.

Graham told the Chronicle that his priorities are still the same – focusing on citizen safety, transparency, communication and traffic.

According to Graham, the May election was a good opportunity to get his feet wet and get a feel for the process and how everything is conducted.

“I think I have a better understanding of the process and the actual system of how the council was set up,” he previously told the Chronicle. “I've met with every city council person. I've also met with the mayor, some multiple times, and you're definitely talking with them to get a better understanding of what they deal with day in and day out. ”

“Definitely provides me some more clarity that I couldn't gain until I talked to the ones that deal with it,” he added.

During the May election, Graham and Smith displayed some tension, going back and forth during public forums. When asked about how he would approach disagreements on council, Graham said that communication and transparency will play an important role.

“I think it's important that we can have a difference of opinion on anything really but it's not personal. It's politics,” Graham said in a previous interview. “We both have an idea of how to push the ball forward, but at the end of the day, it's not just me versus somebody or somebody versus me. It’s a matter of how collaboratively anybody can work together for a common goal.”

Edwin Gerace

Gerace has been a town resident for almost two decades and owns a local marketing business that focuses on small businesses and nonprofits. 

He has told the Chronicle that he believes it’s his time to run and serve the town, adding that he has been encouraged by many residents to run again after seeking a seat during a special election in May. He said he has been active in the town through the Advisory Board and Planning Commission, as a Kids Day volunteer, a mentor in Lexington Lexington School District 1, among other contributions.

Gerace said some of his priorities include strengthening communication between residents and the town, encouraging smart and responsible growth, discovering ways to improve traffic flow, increase communication with small businesses and bring back a community forum.

He also wants to improve the town’s relationships with the county, the state Department of Transportation, the state Legislature, school boards and other stakeholders, explaining he wants to make sure everyone is on the same page.

“At the end of day, community matters. It is critical to continue to enhance the quality of life for our residents in Lexington for us and future generations,” he said.

“I want to be the voice for the residents.” Gerace added.

Jeannie Michaels

Michaels has lived in Lexington for 16 years and said she wants to run to make the town an even better place to work, live and raise a family.

“We have positive momentum, but we need to balance progress with preserving our town’s charm and the commitment to smart growth and tackling our traffic concerns.” she previously told the Chronicle.

Michaels said that her priorities include aligning land use with infrastructure, seeking state and federal funding, and addressing traffic congestion. She added that the town needs preemptive traffic solutions and improved downtown parking mentioning that the parking is a crucial aspect to town growth.

The candidate told the Chronicle that the big changes she would like to see within the town are improved infrastructure, enhanced safety, economic growth and more community engagement.

“Encouraging greater participation in local decision-making and fostering a sense of community with more transparency. Tackle our town's traffic concerns head-on!” she said.

Amelia Cherry Pocta

Amelia Cherry Pocta is a local business owner, operating the remodeling company Bald Cypress Builders. She had told the Chronicle that she adores the town as a resident, community member, and business owner, adding that there have also been areas of challenge.

“I’d love to be a part of the team that tackles those areas in ways that work well for our residents and Lexington supporters,” she said. “I truly believe that we as a Town have an opportunity during this election to establish a diverse Town Council Team, representative of many Lexington voices which is critical to the Town’s short- and long-term future.”

If elected, Pocta said that one of her biggest goals is to strategically translate resident and Lexington support voices to the Town’s decision makers to ensure that all voices have a chance to be heard. She also added that she plans on being an “integral component of enhancing the town's long-term,responsible development vision, bolstering local, small business development, focusing on enhancing outdoor and green space initiatives, and importantly, bridging any gaps in residents.”

“Lexington is rich with history and we’re fortunate to have a number of folks who have been in Lexington for decades, and who in many ways, created the Lexington we see today. We also have incredible newcomers who have fresh perspectives and ideas,” Pocta previously told the Chronicle. “It’s important we bring those lenses together in order to preserve the reason we all live here in Lexington in the first place.”


Irmo has three incumbents with terms ending this year. Town Council Member Erik Sickinger is running alongside four challengers in Phyllis Coleman, Jeff Allen, and Gabriel Penfield, so there will be a new council member taking one of the two seats up for grabs.

Residents will see the name George Frazier on ballots, but the candidate is no longer eligible to run. Lenice Shoemaker, director for the Lexington County Board of Voter Registration and Elections, said Frazier moved to Lexington County from Richland County and that the move should have been reported at least 30 days before the election in order to be able to vote or run for office.

Shoemaker added that due to the timeline of the election, it is past the 48-day deadline to have his name removed from the ballot.

Erik Sickinger

Sickinger told the Chronicle that he is running for re-election due to popular sentiment, adding that he doesn’t feel like his job is done. The incumbent stated that while the last four years haven’t been easy, “It's been incredibly rewarding to serve the residents of Irmo and be their advocate for the everyday issues they face.”

“I don't desire standing on council for the rest of my life, but we lost two years to COVID where it really slowed down,” Sickinger previously told the Chronicle. “And with the relationships and the understanding that I have of how government works and how I can help our residents. I feel like this is a nice follow through from the last couple of years.”

The incumbent recently stated that if re-elected he looks forward to projects that include town’s 10-year plan for smart, intentional growth, driving down a widened Broad River (with a signal light at Royal Tower and Farming Creek), working in coordination with the state Department of Transportation and the county to implement traffic-calming measures to reduce speeding, helping local government be accessible and helpful to all residents, and more.

In a previous interview, Sickinger told the Chronicle that council does a really good job at segmenting the responsibility and working on the things they care about. When it comes to what the council could improve on Sickinger stated that they need to improve on following the set rules to ensure there is an orderly meeting.

If he isn’t re-elected, he said he hopes to see someone on council take up the helm of constituent services and be active to make sure problems get solved.

Phyllis Coleman

Coleman was raised in town and is an alum of Irmo High School. After living in the town on and off since college, she has since resided there for the past five years.

She told the Chronicle that the recently proposed project to bring a downtown to Irmo – which stalled after residents of the predominantly Black area where the town was looking to put it – and the way it was handled was handled, specifically the way they tried to acquire the land, was what really pushed her to run, stating that what she saw alarmed her. Coleman added that she has been approached over the course of this year to run.

“My role is to be an advocate for the residents of Irmo and to contribute to the positive growth and management of the town,” Coleman previously said. “I don’t see that as just my role, but that of all Town Council members.”

Coleman’s recently shared priorities include ensuring that council is a good steward of the funds entrusted to it, supporting police and first responders, developing and creating an alternative exit out of the Hidden Oaks subdivision in Friarsgate, widening Broad River Road and continuing to annex land into the town. 

The candidate stated that she would like to see council become more civil with each other, adding that nothing seems to get done due to the vitriol she sees exhibited during council meetings.

Jeff Allen

Allen has lived in the town of Irmo for 24 years, living in the Irmo-St. Andrews area for the past 34. He served on the Irmo Fire Department for 23 years and has spent 16 years as a member of law enforcement.

Allen previously told the Chronicle that he has been asked for several years to run for council.

“I knew I wanted to and it was just a matter of timing. The time is now. This is something that I consider a continuation of my service to this great Town, and I am humbled by their support,” Allen said. “The mounting emphasis on my participation suggests to me that there are issues that need correction.”

The candidate recently told the Chronicle that he is a no-nonsense person who doesn’t believe in bland statements politicians think will gain them favor.

Allen said there are multiple things currently running under the radar that need to be addressed, adding that most voters are not aware of what goes on behind the scenes and that some of it can be unacceptable.

“Aside from the usual infrastructure, small business and public safety issues, I intend to dig into the behind the curtain items that may need cleaning up for everybody's benefit in the town,” Allen said.

With his background in fire and police, Allen has said his No. 1 focus will be the safety of residents, emphasizing that the town has a first-class police department and a fantastic fire department which has received an ISO rating of one, the best possible rating.

“These agencies must be looked after as completely as possible,” he said. “Where some politicians will make statements about their support for public safety, they have not walked the walk and really do not understand the true needs regarding what takes place behind the scenes.”

Gabriel Penfield

Penfield has been a town resident for 13 years and owns multiple businesses, including the recently closed Tribal Coffee, along with Poore House Furnishings, Parking Lot King and Mavericks Cigars, though his primary business is wealth management. 

He previously told the Chronicle that he would like to see more transparency both in general and fiscally, a better sense of community, and more communication between council and residents.

“There's a saying that bad things happen when good people do nothing,” Penfield said. “I guess I just felt compelled out of a sense of ownership in the community, ownership in terms of my family being here.”

Penfield said that he is not just running for town council but is running to pull together the fabric of the community to create a “Friday Night Lights” feel. He added that he would like to help create a council where they reach out to communities and break bread so that residents feel like their voices can be heard, stating that residents have told him their concerns don’t feel heard.


Incumbents James “Skip” Jenkins, the city’s mayor pro-tem, and Phil Carter, who respectively represent Districts 2 and 4, have filed for re-election and both face two challengers.

Marie Brown and Byron Thomas, director of outreach for Rep. Joe Wilson, have filed for the District 2 seat.

Melvin Fields and Marcy Hayden have filed to run against Carter for the District 4 seat. According to a LinkedIn profile, Fields is a self-employed contractor. 

The Chronicle was unable to get in touch with Fields.

District 2

James “Skip” Jenkins

Currently serving as Mayor Pro-Tem, Jenkins has been on council longer than any of its current members. He previously told the Chronicle he wants to continue serving as there's a lot of unfinished business that needs to be completed.

“If I were to not run for re-election, somebody would replace my seat … then they gotta start from scratch,” Jenkins previously said. “It took many years to get to this point. … So I don't see the advantage of starting over.”

Jenkins added that his priorities will be to continue work on fostering business within Cayce and working to get streets repaved. He emphasized that the city itself does not own any of its streets so more work has to be put into negotiating to get things completed.

He said Thomas gave him a call to say he was running for his seat but that that was the only conversation he has had with him.

“That tells you off the bat that he's in it for other purposes, he's not in it to help the city he's not in it to help the District 2, District 1, District 3, District 4, working as a team or working for Cayce, he’s not in it for that,” Jenkins previously said. “I don't want to be slinging mud, I don't think this is slinging mud. That’s just my opinion as to why he is running.” 

Marie Brown

Brown was born and raised in Cayce though lived around the area and a couple other states at one point, ultimately moving back and residing in her hometown once again. Brown previously told the Chronicle that she wants to run for council due to District 2 going through a type of “urban decay.”

According to Brown, her long and strong family history within District 2 gives her a loyal and vested interest in the district.

“Knowing so many of my fellow residents and their family members personally, makes me feel more dedicated to the community and also gives me more of a personal concern and drive as the representative for District-2 and all residents of Cayce,” she previously said.

If elected, Brown's priorities include restoring residents’ pride in their community, adding that younger residents are the future of the district and city, making it important to get them invested in where they live. Brown added that she wants to encourage residents to attend council meetings so that they are fully informed and to play a major role in getting residents to recycle.

“I truly feel that every positive difference makes a difference,” she said.

Byron Thomas

Thomas has been a resident of Cayce for six years. He serves on the city’s event committee and is the board chair for the Greater Cayce-West Columbia Chamber of Commerce Cares Foundation. As part of his work with Rep. Wilson’s office, where he is the director of outreach,  he attends multiple events within the county and surrounding area.

He previously said he decided to run due to encouragement from people in the community and what he sees as a lack of growth within Cayce, with it potentially falling behind neighboring cities. Thomas recently told the Chronicle he is also running to bring a fresh, energetic voice on city council.

“Cayce has so much potential and I want to tap into that potential to bring amazing jobs, opportunities, and to beautify our city. I’ve always encouraged people to shoot for their dreams and take risks,” Thomas previously said. 

“Now, I'm walking my talk. As a young family man, I want more families to look at Cayce and want to live, work, and play here, because ‘Time For Life’ begins here,” he added, referencing the town motto.

Thomas said his first priority if elected would be to create a scholarship for a senior at Brookland-Cayce High School. He plans to give $1,000 of the citizens taxpayer money that he is paid back into the community. He hopes to name the scholarship after Jenkins.

“I don’t view myself as running for Skip’s seat, I view myself as running for the people’s seat. Skip is a great man and he’s done a lot for the City of Cayce and I respect that,” Thomas said. “But for the City of Cayce to take that next step, to get us in the end zone, it’s going to take new leadership and a new vision. I’m hungry and motivated to get the job done.”

Asked about Thomas wanting to start a scholarship in his name, Jenkins claimed he wasn’t approached by Thomas about the matter, adding that the challenger was wording it as “when I win.”

Thomas recently told the Chronicle that he wants to build bridges to form better relationships with the city’s business community, work with planning and zoning to identify areas to cut red tape, and aid the continual development of vacant properties.

District 4

Phil Carter

Carter previously told the Chronicle he is seeking re-election to see some projects, like the Avenues Storm Water Project, to completion, adding that he has gained the necessary knowledge and understanding of the city to continue being an effective and contributing member.

His goals for the new term include continuing to be a good steward of tax dollars. 

Carter said the city has some work to do with promoting development and new businesses, adding that it must build on its tax base to offset ever-increasing costs.

Carter touched on how the council is good at balancing the demand on their services, giving 100% support to its employees. He added that the city’s employees were outstanding throughout COVID-19.

The incumbent also emphasized the way council has supported the city’s police and fire departments with critical technological updates, new equipment, personnel, adding that they have maintained quick response times and excellent service.

“I receive compliments regularly about all of our departments,” Carter previously told the Chronicle.

Marcy Hayden

Hayden has been a citizen in Cayce on and off for 20 years, having lived in her current neighborhood for 17 years. She represents the city in multiple ways, serving on the Cayce Historical Foundation, the State Archaeological Society of the Midlands, the Women’s Club of Cayce, and on the Cayce Museum Commission as secretary.

She previously told the Chronicle that she is an advocate for community engagement and involvement in all levels of government.

“I want to see Cayce continue with the wonderful progress that it has been making and continue to welcome people to our city,” Hadyen said. “I want to see our government be welcoming to citizens who want to have an active role in city government. 

“And I've experienced along with others some hurdles to serve as a volunteer, and I don't want that to continue happening to others.” she added.

She emphasized that she was one of three women Carter rejected when seeking to volunteer on one of the city’s various boards, commissions and foundations, adding that in the end they were able to get approved and serve.

“While it's not a major part of why I want to serve, it is a part that I am concerned about and want to make sure doesn't happen to other people.” she said.

As to Hayden’s assertions, Carter emphasized that Hayden wasn’t rejected for city appointment but rather the vote was tabled for 30 days to gather more information about process and procedures.

If elected to council, Hayden told the Chronicle she wants to support the city's parks, museums, arts and cultural organizations. She added that she wants to make sure Cayce is a place that welcomes people and supports local business.

West Columbia

West Columbia could see as many as five new council members after the November election. Four incumbents are running for re-election in Trevor Bedell, Joseph Dickey Jr., Jimmy Brooks and David Moye, and the city will also hold a special election to replace Erin Porter, who vacated her seat earlier this year after moving out of town.

Bedell, who covers District 2, is the only council member running unopposed.

Two people have filed for Porter’s former seat in Trisha Lekovich and Sarah Mattern, with the winner set to serve the remainder of her term, which goes through 2025.

The Chronicle has been unable to get intouch with Mattern.

District 4

Joseph Dickey

“I am running for re-election for the same reasons I ran four years ago,” Dickey previously told the Chronicle. “West Columbia is the place my wife and I chose to call home and to raise our family.”

He added that within the last four years, council has taken significant steps in moving the city into a positive direction.

The incumbent had told the Chronicle that his goal for a new term is to ensure responsible growth in the city’s development while maintaining its unique character and identity, adding that the city’s community continues to attract families and businesses.

He added that one of his biggest goals is to recruit additional retail to the River District, one of these being a top-tier grocery story. Other goals include increasing first responder compensation and creatively engaging in public-private partnerships to develop the historic buildings and areas of the city.

Ronnie Lindler

Lindler has been a West Columbia resident his entire life and previously said he chose to run for city council so that residents can have a voice, claiming that residents in the area are only told what will happen.

The candidate’s priorities center around public safety, stating a desire to see improved walking and biking safety, four-way stops being implemented where needed, and more speed bumps and handicap accessible areas.

When it comes to what he brings to council, Lindler told the Chronicle that he has no personal agenda, adding that he values common sense solutions. He said his role would include speaking to residents regarding town plans, adding that their input will play a part when he is weighing the pros and cons of council decisions.

District 6

Jimmy Brooks

Brooks previously told the Chronicle there are two main reasons why he is seeking re-election – to see the development of the Highway 378 corridor to the finish line and interacting with citizens.

“I also enjoy the interactions I have with the residents of my district and all residents of West Columbia,” he had said. “I answer or return every call I get. I also answer all emails. I am accessible at all times. It is an honor to serve the residents of my district.”

He said he also would like to develop a code of conduct for council, review ordinances to make sure the city is up to date on them and to continue doing what’s best for residents.

Madison Duncan

Duncan is lifelong resident of West Columbia and is active within the community having served as vice president of the Westover Acres Community Crime Watch, executive committeeman  and East District chair for the Lexington County Republican Party.

He previously told the Chronicle that his priorities include coordinating future road paving projects, emphasizing that construction traffic on McSwain Drive is prematurely tearing apart the road. He would also like to take a deeper look into funding to see where it is needed most.

“An example is the newly proposed pedestrian bridge near Riverbanks Zoo that many community members have questions and concerns about,” he said “I want to be a voice for them.”

Duncan has already advocated for changes in the town, having petitioned for a “Jake Brake” noise ordinance for Rivers Edge, Saluda Hills, and parts of Westover Acres, which was recently passed.

District 7

Trisha Lekovich

According to her campaign website, Lekovich is a lifelong resident of West Columbia.

She states that District 7 is a great place to live and has a small neighborhood feel while still being close to the city’s downtown, adding that the district needs someone who understands and appreciates its charm.

“We need to grow responsibly or we will lose what makes District 7 a desirable place to live,” she writes on her site. “I want to ensure that we keep what makes us unique and respect the desires and wishes of the people that live in the district.”

According to her website, her goals include working closely with other elected officials to make sure the district remains a garden district and grows in a responsible manner and keeping the interest of the people in all decisions made.

District 8

David Moye

Moye previously told the Chronicle that when he originally ran for council it was to keep taxes low and advocate for common sense reforms that would spread revitalization further into the city. He added that while progress has been made there is still so much left to do.

According to the incumbent, he would like to see multiple projects to the finish line including the U.S. Highway 1/Meeting Street corridor improvements and the Colite City redevelopment announced for a former factory in the Triangle City area.

Moye recently told the Chronicle that council can be divided at times on “non-issues,” one example being that some areas with special considerations could benefit from zoning reforms. He added that this is a normal deregulation for any city and that it would not do anything but add to the progress the city has already made.

“There should never be any controversy about this,” he said.

Pete Fisher

While he wasn’t born in the city, Fisher said he considers himself a life-long resident given how long he has lived in the area. 

Fisher previously ran for council in 2021 against Mike Green in District 1. His district is changed this year due to the city’s recent redistricting.

He said his reasoning for running came via his mentor Dale Harley, also known as Big D, who is a former council member.

“I learned a lot from him,” he previously told the Chronicle. “I believe my experience along with the knowledge imparted working with state, county, and local officials will serve the city well.”

Fisher said he learned more about campaigning after he went through the experience, stating that his team has been analyzing voting analytics, data and trends.

If elected, he had said his priorities include budget, public infrastructure, economic vitality, housing, and community engagement. Fisher told the Chronicle he would like to see more implementation of green initiatives, local business development, smart health options for residents, accessibility and mobility options, parks and recreation venues, and city operations with new technology. 


The Town of Chapin has two seats open, with both Vicki Shealy and Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Clonts reaching the end of their term. Only Shealy has filed for re-election, with no challengers having filed. The Chronicle was unable to contact Shealy regarding her re-election campaign.


Pelion has two at-large seats up for grabs, with incumbent Daniel Shumpert, son of the current mayor, being the only Town Council member to file for re-election, while Mike Mascio didn’t file for re-election.

The town has had two other candidates file, those being John Elkin and John Downer.

The Chronicle was unable to contact Elkin and Shumpert.

John Downer

Downer has lived in Pelion since 1990, telling the Chronicle that since he has moved here he has coached a Pelion Athletic Program boys baseball and soccer team, and he also coached a Pelion team in the Lexington Girls soccer program.

He stated that he is running to be a participant and guardian for all great things that Pelion has.

“I want to be a valued member of the council, one who ensures the issues and things we value are protected,” he told the Chronicle. “I’m running because I want our town to feel they have a voice and someone that will listen to them and provide honest answers to their questions as well as a path available.”

If elected, his goals include learning from his fellow council members as they have a lot of experience, knowledge and good ideas for ensuring that the community succeeds and prospers. He would also want to make sure that elderly citizens have methods in which they can reach out for assistance as needed.

John Elkin

Elkin has lived in Pelion for roughly 10 years and has been in public service since before he was 17, telling the Chronicle that he has been a volunteer firefighter, police officer and state trooper.

He said he decided to run because he wasn’t exactly happy with the way some town meetings had been run.

“Instead of me complaining, I just figured I'll stick my hand in the air and say, ‘You know what, I'll do it too,’” Elkin said. “I can't really complain that much because we don't have a huge pool of candidates ever. We’re such a small town and such a low voter turnout.”

“It usually results in the mayor and other council members going out looking for somebody to please come run and help us out,” he added.

The candidate also added that a couple members of council are family members, with Mayor Frank Shumpert being Daniel Shumpert’s father.

If elected, Elkin said some of his goals and priorities would include fiscal responsibility, adding that the town is not doing poorly but that there have been times in the past where the town has not been fiscally responsible.

Another one of his goals is to find a way for Pelion to grow without turning it into a large city, emphasizing that the town is a farming community.

“We're a very close-knit, small community,” Elkin said. “But we recognize that the town has to grow because everywhere around us is growing.”


Batesburg-Leesville has four Town Council seats on the ballot, with three incumbents, Johnnie Mae Speach-Lemon, Paul Wise and Bob Hall, filing for re-election.

The three incumbents represent Districts 4, 6 and 8 and have all been on council since 2019. 

Wise and Speech-Lemon face challengers. Hall is running unopposed.

One other incumbent, Olin Gambrell of District 2, has been on council since 2017 after being elected to fill the remainder of an unexpired term. He was re-elected in 2019. According to Jay Hendrix, assistant town manager, Gambrell is not holding a write-in campaign and will be retiring following his time on council.

David Bouknight Jr. is the only candidate to file for Gambrell’s open seat. He is a member of the town's Planning Commission and a local business owner.

The Chronicle was unable to reach District 6 challenger Tillman Gives.

Betty Barnes Hartley filed for District 4, and Tillman Gives filed for District 6. The Chronicle was unable to contact Gives.

Hendrix told the Chronicle that he is unaware of any write-in campaigns, mentioning that the town has not had a candidate win through a write-in in a very long time.

District 2

David Bouknight Jr.

Bouknight told the Chronicle he wanted to run for council to give back to the town, stating that it has given so much to him and his family since they moved there in 1973.

Some of his goals include taking care of the police, the firemen, the people that work for water and sewer and the people that work in Town Hall.

“I want to make sure everybody gets paid a fair wage to be competitive so we can keep good quality people in those positions,” Bouknight said. “I would like to see the council and work more towards getting industry into the town so that we can have our citizens have good, high paying jobs without having to commute and they can not go so far away.”

He added that he believes his experience in owning a business and dealing with people will prove to be beneficial as a council member.

District 4

Johnnie Mae Speach-Lemon

Speach-Lemon told the Chronicle that she is seeking re-election because she wants to continue to be part of the work to make the town of Batesburg-Leesville better, adding that she wants to continue to serve her community.

“I think as a whole council is doing a very good job working together and doing what is necessary to better our town,” she said, mentioning that she believes she brings a positive outlook and a great insight into the town’s needs.

If reelected, Speach-Lemon’s main goal for her new term is to continue working on repairing and resurfacing the town’s streets.

Betty Barnes Hartley

Hartley told the Chronicle that she decided to run for council out of concern for the residents and the change coming to the town.

If elected, Hartley said her goals include having services for senior citizens based on the town's current elderly populations along with ensuring that there are educational opportunities for children.

“Housing is the number one concern in the area,” Hartley said, “that we have affordable housing for all people.”

District 6

Paul Wise

Wise is a lifelong resident of the town and hopes to gain his second term on council. He said he would like to continue to implement his training and experience from the Municipal Elected Officials Institute to the town's strategic plan.

Some of his goals for the new term would be to have an effective and timely implementation of the town’s strategic plan, improvements in vehicle, bike, and pedestrian safety, renovations to our public parks and revitalization of the historic downtown districts, continue improvements in the water and sewers systems to support economic and residential growth, and strategic and responsible use of hospitality tax funds.

If he is not re-elected, Wise said hopes to see the council “remain cognitive of the strategic plan created by the town’s people.”.

He stated that the council currently works well together to make the best decisions for the town's residents.

District 8

Bob Hall

The only unopposed incumbent told the Chronicle that he is seeking re-election because he feels he can make a positive impact in the community and on the quality of life for both current and future generations.

His goals for a new term include increasing citizen participation in decisions through advisory committees and to develop short- and long-range plans to revitalize different portions of town, putting an emphasis on the business district.

“Current council is good at restricting the democratic process and avoiding transparency,” Hall told the Chronicle, adding that council needs to work on reviewing and updating town ordinances and needs to require a cost analysis before making decisions. 


Summit currently has two incumbents running for re-election. Mayor David Reese and Town Council Member Mike Hartley are each seeking another term. 

Robert Shultz has filed for a seat on council and will likely get it, as only two people have filed for the two at-large seats up for grabs.

Pine Ridge

Pine Ridge Town Council has two members with terms ending this year in Melissa Lewie and Beth Sturkie. Sturkie filed for re-election, while Lewie did not. 

Maria Jeffcoat Urbanek has filed for a seat on the council and is likely to get the seat Lewie will be leaving empty. According to Pine Ridge Town Hall, it is unclear whether Lewie will hold a write-in campaign. 

Beth Sturkie

Sturkie told the Chronicle that she wanted to run for re-election because she loves the town and wants to be a part of it and part of what is keeping Pine Ridge the way it is.

She said if she is re-elected, she and the council will continue the work they are doing.

“t we have a good thing going with where we are, and we just worked well together and just think that, you know, we just kind of want to keep going on the path that we're going,” she said.

Sturkie added that though there is room for improvement, the council gets along, has great ideas and visions for the town.

Maria Jeffcoat Urbanek

Urbanek, a Pine Ridge resident for the past 34 years, told the Chronicle that she wanted to run as she has actively attended council meetings since 2018 and started serving on the town's Board of Zoning Appeals in 2020.

“As a town citizen who has regularly attended council meetings,” she said. “I feel that our current administration has the town’s best interest at heart, and I would also make that a goal and a priority.”

She stated that if she is elected, she would work in conjunction with other council members, stating that a good council member is someone dedicated to the town and someone who wants to make it a great place to work, live, go to school, raise a family and retire.


Springdale has three incumbent Town Council members – Viki Fecas, Steve Hallman and Cory Hook – running for re-election. All three are running unopposed.

Viki Fecas

Fecas told the Chronicle that she prayed on the decision to run again for most of the year, as her mother will be turning 90 in December.

 “I heard the speaker [son of one of the Emmanuel Nine in Charleston] at the Municipal Association of South Carolina annual meeting in July talk about using our 'area of influence' to help preach love,” she said. “I realized my 'public platform' can do just that.”

She said that if re-elected she is excited to see multiple projects through to fruition. The incumbent mentioned that the council needs to work on long-term visioning, adding that council does a good job at respecting each other's differences and perspectives.

“We have a master plan but need to bring some others to the table to help us position ourselves to attract private investment in our community,” she said.

Steve Hallman

Hallman said he is running for re-election because he enjoys working for the town he lives in, adding that he is able to ensure that he is sharing his business insights as the town plans and deals with issues as they arise.

If re-elected, Hallman said one of his goals would be to work on sewer expansion, mentioning that he also looks forward to keeping the town’s parks in “best of class”  standards and to be a part of hiring and training the best team to work in the Town Hall, the police department and the sanitation department.

“We are a diverse council that does a good job bringing different perspectives to different needs/issues as they arise,” Hallman said. “We work very well together, We agree to disagree and work through our different perspectives to arrive at the best solutions for our town.”

Cory Hook

Hook told the Chronicle that he is seeking re-election because he likes working with the town and council members, adding that he had learned a lot during his first term.

The incumbent said that if re-elected, he will continue to clean up the properties of old buildings, mentioning that Springdale is a great place to live.

“We're trying to listen,” Hook said. “Listen to the voices and trying to do what the town wants.”

Hook couldn’t think of anything the council needs to work on, adding that the group works together really well. On council, Hook believes he brings a younger perspective.


Swansea Town Council Members Michael Luongo and Doris Simmons are running unopposed for re-election in Districts 3 and 4, respectively. Luongo ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2021.

Doris Simmons

Simmons told the Chronicle that shee’s for re-election because she is finally getting somewhere when it comes to working with other members of council to accomplish what they want for the town.

“We need to work on attaining new business, which will help improve the physical appearance of our community,” Simmons said, “help to keep more of our graduating students in town instead of them moving away for work.”

While she is currently unchallenged for her seat, if she does become, unseated Simmons hopes to see the town continue to work together. If she maintains her spot on council, she said her goal is for the town to attain pride and work together with the other council members to do what is best for the town.

Michael Luongo

Luongo’s sentiment was similar to Simmons, as he said hewants to continue representing the town and watch the work he has been doing for the past six years come to fruition.

If elected for a new term, Luongo told the Chronicle that he would like to see more transparency from the town, adding that it’s something the community is fighting for.

The incumbent added that people would be surprised about the lack of information that council members are actually receiving from the town that would make them do their jobs better.

“We've made a tremendous improvement on communication between the four council members,” Luongo said. “We're actually a lot more united, you know, in the last six months than we've ever been. Because of the current mayor, we're having to become more united together because of some of the things that she is currently doing.”


Gilbert will have two vacancies on Town Council, as Nancy Harmon and Mark Sanders reach the end of their terms. Both appear to be coming off council, as only one person, Fred Taylor, has filed to run.

According to the Gilbert town website, Taylor is a member of the Planning Commission.

School Board Race

Lexington County School District 4

The district that covers the area around Swansea will hold a special election Nov. 7 due to Board Member Zachary Smith having resigned due to personal reasons. Only Troy Harper has filed for the seat.

The Chronicle was unable to get in touch with Harper.

lexington county election guide, west columbia mayoral race, cayce city council, voter information sc


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