The race for Union County Clerk of Court once again offers voters a choice between incumbent and challenger.
At the beginning of May, there were 17 candidates running for office in Union County, among them Melanie Lawson, a Democrat, who was running for Clerk of Court. The number of candidates running in the county was reduced by more than half when a decision by the State Supreme Court forced both the Democratic and Republican parties to remove hundreds of candidates from the June 12 primary and/or the Nov. 6 general election ballots.
The court ruled that candidates for public office must provide their party with paper copies of their statement of economic interest regardless of whether they’d already filed it electronically. The ruling forced the Democratic and Republican parties in Union County to remove a total of 10 candidates from the ballot, including Lawson.
Shortly after she was removed from the ballot, Lawson was among a group of candidates to gather at the Union County Democratic Party headquarters to announce their intentions to run as petition candidates in November. To do so, however, a candidate must collect the signatures of 5 percent of the registered voters in their district on a petition of candidacy.
Lawson did just that, collecting with the help of family and friends the signatures of 1,563 registered voters in Union County. In mid-July, she turned the 131-page document in to the Union County Voter Registrar’s Office for certification so her name could be placed on the November ballot and that’s just what happened.
On Monday, Voter Registrar Darlene Pettit announced that she’d certified the names on Lawson’s petition and that Lawson’s name will be on the November ballot as a petition candidate for Clerk of Court.
Lawson welcomed the news and the opportunity to continue meeting the public as she campaigns.
“I’m thankful for everyone who helped me and everyone who signed the petition,” Lawson said. “I am very excited to get out there and keep meeting the people.
“We worked hard and we got it done, and I’m not going to slow down,” she said. “We’ve been getting a lot of good response and we’re going to keep going.”
Lawson will face incumbent Clerk of Court Freddie Gault, a Republican, in November.
With one exception, the court’s decision left only incumbents like Gault on the ballot in both the primaries and the general election.
The exception was in the race for the Democratic nomination for Union County Council District 5 where former school board member John Rampey remained on the ballot against incumbent Randall “Chump” Hanvey. Hanvey defeated Rampey for the District 5 nomination in the June 12 primary. No Republican is running in District 5 and so Hanvey is unopposed for reelection in November.
Besides Gault, the court’s decision also left SC House District 42 Rep. Mike Anthony, Union County Sheriff David Taylor, Union County Council District 3 Councilman Tommy Ford and Union County Council Member Kacie Petrie without opposition. Prior to the court’s ruling, Anthony was opposed in November by Republican Randall English while Taylor was opposed by former sheriff William Jolly in the June Democratic primary, the winner of which would face Republican Marshall Adams in November. Ford as opposed by Chrystal Coffer in the Democratic primary, the winner of which would face Republican Ronda Adams-Palmer while Petrie was oppose for the Democratic nomination by Ray Treadway.
Since they were removed from the ballot by their respective parties, English has declined to run as a petition candidate while Jolly was among the Democrats who announced with Lawson their into to do so. Jolly went on to collect more than 1,100 signatures on his petition of candidacy which has since been certified and his name placed on the November ballot. Adams also announced his intention to run a petition candidacy and is currently undergoing the certification process.
Coffer, Adams-Palmer, and Treadway also announced their intentions to run petition candidacies and are currently at various stages of the certification process.
Hardest hit by the court’s decision was Union County Council District 2 where three candidates were running to succeed retiring council member Dora Martin-Jennings. Curtiss Hunter, Ralph Tucker, and Frank Hart were seeking the Democratic nomination when they were removed from the primary ballot. Their removal not only left the primary ballot blank, but the November ballot as well because not Republicans are running for the seat.
Since then, however, Hunter, Tucker and Hart have each collected the signatures of 5 percent of the registered voters in District 2 and had them certified, getting their names on the November ballot.