The number of candidates running for the Union County Council District 3 seat has doubled.
At the beginning of May, District 3 was one of the most contested races in Union County with two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination in the June 12 primary and a third candidate running as a Republican in the Nov. 6 general election. That changed with the State Supreme Court ruling later that month that candidates for public office must provide their party with a paper copy of their statement of economic interest regardless of whether it had been filed. The court’s decision forced the Democratic and Republican parties to remove hundreds of candidates across South Carolina from the primary and general election ballots.
In Union County, 10 of the 17 candidates that were running in either the primary and/or the general election were removed from the ballot. The number of candidates running in District 3 dropped from three to one, leaving both the primary and the general election uncontested.
Among the candidates removed from the ballot by their party in the wake of the court’s decision was Ronda Adams-Palmer who was running for the District 3 seat as a Republican and would have faced the winner of the June primary in November. Shortly after she was removed from the ballot, Adams-Palmer, along with all but one of the other candidates removed by the court’s decision, announced that she would run as a petition candidate in the general election.
To run as a petition candidate, a person must collect the signatures of five percent of the registered voters in their district on a petition of candidacy. The petition then had to be turned in to the Union County Voter Registrar’s Office for the signatures to be certified. If they were, the candidate’s name was placed on the November ballot.
Adams-Palmer collected the signatures of 170 voters in District 3 and turned them in to the Voter Registrar’s Office in July. On Monday, Voter Registrar Darlene Pettit said that she’d certified Adams-Palmer’s petition and that her name would be placed on ballot for the general election.
This is Adams-Palmer’s first bid for public office and she said Wednesday that the petition process had given her an opportunity to get to know the people of District 3 and their concerns.
“It was upsetting at first when I learned I had to do this based on the Supreme Court’s decision,” Adams-Palmer said. “Nevertheless, it gave me the opportunity to get out earlier and, in gathering the signatures, to meet and listen to the needs of the constituents in District 3.”
Adams-Palmer said she feels her interactions with the people of District 3 during the petition process has energized her campaign and she looks forward to building on that.
“I’m excited about the momentum that has been gained through this process and I’m looking forward to working into the very last hour to make this personal goal a reality,” Adams-Palmer said. “I love Union County, the people of Union County and am looking forward to working for Union County if I’m given the opportunity.”
With her return to the ballot, the race for the District 3 council seat is once again contested. The seat is currently held by Councilman Tommy Ford, a Democrat, who will face Adams-Palmer in November.
At the time of the court’s decision, Ford was being challenged by Chrystal Coffer for the Democratic nomination. Like Adams-Palmer, Coffer was removed from the ballot in accordance with the court’s decision. Also like Adams-Palmer, she announced her intention to run as a petition candidate. She has also turned in her petition of candidacy and is currently undergoing the certification process.
Challengers vs. Incumbents
When the court issued its ruling, 10 of the 17 candidates running in Union County were, like Adams-Palmer and Coffer, challengers, all but three of whom were running against incumbents like Ford.
The challengers included former sheriff William Jolly who was running for the Democratic nomination for Union County Sheriff against incumbent and fellow Democrat David Taylor. The winner of the nomination would have faced Republican Marshall Adams in November. Jolly and Adams were both removed from the ballot but Jolly has since gained a spot on the November ballot as petition candidate. Adams is also seeking to run as a petition candidate and is still undergoing the certification process.
Melanie Lawson, a Democrat, was running for Union County Clerk of Court against incumbent Freddie Gault, a Republican, when she was removed from the ballot. Lawson has since went through the petition process and returned to the general election ballot as a petition candidate.
In Union County Council District 2, incumbent Dora Martin-Jennings, a Democrat, declined to seek reelection. Fellow Democrats Curtiss Hunter, Ralph Tucker and Frank Hart were running to succeed Martin-Jennings when they were removed from the ballot in May. This not only deprived District 2 voters of a choice in the June primary, but in the general election as well as there were no Republicans running. Since then, however, Hunter, Tucker and Hart have each gained a spot on the November ballot as petition candidates, once again giving District 3 voters a choice.
Also removed from the ballot was Ray Treadway who was running for the Democratic nomination against incumbent Kacie Petrie in the Union County Council District 6. Treadway is currently undergoing the certification process to become a petition candidate for the seat. No Republicans are running in District 6.
The race for the Democratic nomination in Union County Council District 5 was only election in the county where the challenger, former school board member John Rampey, was not removed from the ballot. Rampey faced and was defeated by incumbent Randall “Chump” Hanvey in the June 12 primary. No Republicans are running in Distict 5.
No Republicans are running for the SC House District 42 seat which is currently held by Democrat Mike Anthony. Republican Randall English was seeking the District 42 seat when he was removed from the ballot as a result of the court’s decision. He has declined to run as a petition candidate leaving Anthony unopposed for reelection.