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The immediate impact of the Nov. 8 election in Charleston County is that Republicans will control Charleston County Council for the first time in recent years. They also have more state House seats than in the past.

Currently, the council has five Democrats, including chairman Teddie Pryor of North Charleston, who was unopposed in the Nov. 8 election. Before Pryor was chair, the majority Democrats picked Republican Elliott Summey of North Charleston to lead council until he left to run the county airport authority. And well before that when Republicans had enough votes to insist on a chairman, council members picked Democratic veteran Vic Rawl to lead the county’s governing board.

In 2023, things on council will change in two ways. First,  the victory by newcomer Joe Boykin with 54% of the vote in his Ravenel-James Island-Johns Island race gives the GOP a fifth of nine seats after he beat longtime Democratic member Anna Johnson. Republicans on council will be Boykin, newcomer Larry Kobrovsky of Sullivans Island, who was unopposed, and veterans Herb Sass of Mount Pleasant, Brantley Moody of West Ashley and Jenny Honeycutt, who got 54.6% of the vote in her James Island district.

Second, because the GOP will have control without Summey and Pryor won’t be chair, the longtime dominance of North Charleston’s influence on council is expected to diminish greatly.  

Sass, who also was unopposed, says partisanship mostly will go out the door once the new chairman is picked in early January.

“Once that vote is over, the Rs and Ds go away,” said Sass, a leading contender to be chairman.  “They really do.”

He said he believed all members of council, including newcomers Kobrovsky and Boykin, would work collectively to govern.

“I’m really excited about the team we’re going to have and we’re going to work hard for Charleston County,” he said. “That’s our job. That’s what we’re supposed to do.”

Tuesday’s elections in Charleston County have other impacts:

Karen Hollings, a Democrat, will be the county’s new Register of Deeds, taking over for embattled Michael Miller, who she beat in a primary. On Tuesday, Hollings, who worked in the Deeds office for several years, prevailed over GOP candidate Bob McIntyre by garnering 52.6% of the vote.

Republican Probate Judge Irv Condon nabbed 52.5% of the vote to keep his job in a race against Democratic nominee Tamara Cunningham Curry.

GOP makes gains in Charleston County

In races for the state House of Representatives, two GOP newcomers — Gary Brewer of West Ashley and Mount Pleasant resident Tom Hartnett, son of former Congressman Tommy Hartnett — defeated Democrats to keep the districts in the Republican column. Brewer polled 59% of the vote over Democratic challenger Michelle Brandt, while Hartnett beat challenger Ellis Roberts by getting 54% of the vote. Also of note was the loss of Democratic state Rep. Krystle Matthews of Ladson, whose gerrymandered district includes some of Charleston County. GOP challenger Jordan Pace of Goose Creek got 64% of the vote. Matthews also lost a statewide race for U.S. Senate to incumbent Tim Scott of Charleston.

In other House races, former Mount Pleasant council member Kathy Landing nabbed 63% of the vote in a new House district in a race against Democratic nominee Donna Brown Newton. And GOP newcomer Matt Leber, who wouldn’t answer media questions about his political past in the week before the election, flipped a House seat to Republicans by getting 51.7% of the vote against incumbent Democratic Rep. Chardale Murray.

Most of the county’s House incumbents, however, kept their seats including Democratic Reps. J.A. Moore, Marvin Pendarvis (unopposed), Deon Tedder, Wendell Gilliard (unopposed), Spencer Wetmore and Leon Stavrinakis. Republican incumbents who won reelection included Reps. Gil Gatch, Lee Hewitt (unopposed) and Joe Bustos.  

School board candidates certified Friday — but there’s a twist

The Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration on Friday certified winners of nine school board races on Nov. 8. This year, unlike the past, all nine seats were up for grabs after changes in the law in 2018.  

This year’s contests were remarkable for three reasons:

Vastly different board. First, only two members of the existing board were elected in races where candidates with the most votes — regardless of whether they reached 50% — won.  Current members Courtney Waters and Erika Cokley won their races.

Withdrawal. But Cokley said before the election that she wanted out of the race.  But she reportedly didn’t inform the elections board in writing until after voting day.  So she was certified.  If she is not sworn in on Nov. 18, the new school board likely will declare the seat vacant and forward the vacancy to the county’s legislative delegation to recommend an appointee to the governor.

Eligibility. Third is the case of the District 5 winner, Carlotte Bailey. She’s employed as a teacher’s assistant by the school district.It is the board’s policy that she would have to resign the job if she wanted to be on the board. Otherwise, that seat could become vacant, too.

Of the 32 people on ballots last week, there candidates were certified as winners:

  • District 1 (Mount Pleasant): Keith Grybowski.
  • District 2 (East Cooper): Ed Kelley.
  • District 3 (Charleston-Mount Pleasant): Pam McKinney.
  • District 4 (Charleston-North Charleston): Courtney Waters.
  • District 5 (West Ashley-North Charleston): Carlotte M. Bailey. 
  • District 6 (West Ashley): Erika Cokley. 
  • District 7 (West Ashley): Leah A. Whatley.
  • District 8 (Ravenel-Johns Island): Darlene Dunmeyer.
  • District 9 (James-Folly-Kiawah islands): Carol Tempel.

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