Georgetown GOP urges city council to drop $375,000 fine against former Democrat candidate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, June 30, 2008
CONTACT: Tom Swatzel 843-222-7456

GEORGETOWN-- A Georgetown business owner and former Democrat city council candidate is receiving help from an unexpected source in her ongoing fight with the Democrat-controlled council over whether her downtown ice cream shop must install a public restroom.

Monday, Tom Swatzel, chairman of the Georgetown County Republican Party, condemned the City of Georgetown for denying Colonial Floral Fascinations owner Jeanette Ard a certificate of occupancy for a small ice cream shop she added to the rear of her business on Front Street in 2007 and fining her nearly $375,000 to date, even though the shop was built to city building permit specifications. Only after the construction was completed did city inspectors contend that a restroom was required, a condition with which Ard refused to comply.

"It's hard to defend the indefensible, or even explain why the city is engaging in a Keystone Cops routine against a successful business owner that will cost city taxpayers with a growing bill for legal fees and the possibility of a huge award for damages," Swatzel said. "It's even more interesting that it's the county Republican Party that is coming to Ms. Ard's defense, since the city council is strongly controlled by her fellow Democrats, but we believe the issue hurts all city and county residents by making it harder to attract and create new businesses and jobs."

The county GOP in a resolution delivered to the city Monday called on the Democrat-controlled city council to "resolve this matter without delay in favor of Ms Ard," and in a letter to his counterpart, county Democrat Party chairman Jamie Sanderson, the GOP's Swatzel urged Sanderson to join him in using his influence with the city council to resolve the issue. Ard, who ran for a city council seat several years ago, as well as five of the six council members and Georgetown Mayor Lynn Wood Wilson are members of the county Democrat Party.

In his letter to Sanderson, Swatzel wrote, "The arbitrary and capricious actions of the city have harmed Ms Ard, but they also send a very strong anti-business message to businesses that may locate or want to expand in Georgetown. This will harm the city's and county's ability to attract businesses and jobs. The Georgetown County Republican Party supports economic development and the creation of more jobs for city and county citizens. It is my hope that the county Democrat Party also shares the same view and is willing to publicly stand with us by helping to resolve Ms Ard's plight."

Swatzel noted that the state Department of Health and Environmental Control does not require small ice cream shops to have a public restroom, and that because Ard's building is on the National Historic Register and is recognized as a historic property by the city architectural review board, she is exempt from some building code requirements.

In September 2007, Ard was forced to sue the city for gross negligence for failing to advise her until after construction was complete that a restroom was required, and to avoid mounting fines of $1,087 per day.

Earlier this month, Circuit Court Judge Lee S. Alford denied a "motion to dismiss" requested by the City of Georgetown, ruling that "the allegations of the complaint are sufficient to set forth a cause of action for gross negligence" against the city.

Click here for link to recent Georgetown Times story
Click here for copy of resolution
Click here for copy of letter to Sanderson

Vote boosts SC and Georgetown County GOP outlook

As this article from The State newspaper shows, Republican voters turned out in numbers that overwhelmed the Democrat turnout for last week's primary elections- again documenting the strength of the GOP with voters in South Carolina.

In Georgetown County the GOP attracted the overwhelming majority of primary voters with the appeal of the party's conservative platform of lower taxes and limited government- almost 60% of the primary voters in the county voted Republican.

And for the first time in history the Republicans captured a majority on County Council with Austin Beard's impressive victory in the County Council District- 5 special election on June 10th.

The State- Sunday, June 15, 2008
Vote boosts S.C. GOP outlook

By Wayne Washington

S.C. Republicans say turnout in Tuesday's primary shows party's hold on the state

Democrats, excited about the high turnout in their presidential primary earlier this year, are hoping South Carolina can be put into play in November's general election.

But if Tuesday's primary results are any indication, the Palmetto State is as red as ever.

On a hot day when the state's senior U.S. senator, Lindsey Graham, and three U.S. House members all faced primary challenges, Republicans swamped Democrats at the polls.

Graham and his opponent, retired dentist Buddy Witherspoon, got a combined 278,625 votes - almost twice the number of votes two Democrats on the ballot received.

In the U.S. House races, Republican candidates combined to out-poll their Democratic counterparts by even more gaping margins.

Republicans were quick to see the results as a testament to their hold on the state.

"Republican candidates won primary elections ... by staying true to the principles of our party, limited government, lower taxes and traditional values," said S.C. Republican Party chairman Katon Dawson. "Even with the excitement surrounding the Democratic presidential primary, Republicans in South Carolina have out-recruited the Democrats, out-fundraised the Democrats, and we will out-work the Democrats this fall."

Dawson even took a shot at the presumptive Democratic nominee, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, who won the primary here in January.

"Democrats nominated candidates for office in South Carolina up and down the ballot who are long on rhetoric and short on substance, just like their presidential nominee, Barack Obama, the most liberal member of the United States Senate," Dawson said.

Dawson's remarks indicate Republicans believe Obama will not be a boon to other Democrats on the ballot this fall and could actually be a drag on their prospects. That's precisely what state Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston, predicted when he chose to support U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York in the presidential primary.

But other Democrats and political experts believe McCain will have to compete to win South Carolina this fall.

They cite the current environment, where gas prices are painfully high, the nation's most visible Republican, President Bush, is unpopular and the economy is troubled.

And then there is the excitement Obama's campaign generated here earlier this year when he spoke to large, overflow crowds at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center and at Williams-Brice Stadium and spurred the registration of thousands of new voters.

The excitement of January has not waned.

"I'm getting people knocking on our door, looking to go to work for Obama," said Carol Fowler, chairwoman of the S.C. Democratic Party. "If Obama never comes east of the Mississippi River, we will have a strong Obama campaign here."

Republican presidential candidates have had little trouble carrying South Carolina.

Jimmy Carter, from neighboring Georgia, was the last Democrat to win the state, in 1976.

For seven straight presidential elections, Republicans have been able to assume victory in South Carolina and focus their time and resources in other, more competitive states.

But Blease Graham, political science professor at USC, believes McCain won't have that luxury this fall. He, like Fowler, believes the large gaps in voting between Republicans and Democrats in last week's primary are more of a reflection of what was at stake.

"As much as anything, it shows the distinction between a presidential office and a state office," Graham said. "It's entirely possible that Obama will do better."

Fowler, an Obama supporter, said putting those excited new supporters to work registering new voters will be key. That new voters did not come out to support other candidates in the primary does not mean they won't flood the polls for Obama this fall.

"People don't go out and vote just because it's election day," Fowler said. "They vote because they know of a candidate or they know of a particular issue."

Obama, unlike past Democratic nominees, is expected to have far more money to spend than his Republican rival.

That money can be used on advertising and on campaign staffers, even in states where he merely wants to force McCain to use his own, more limited, resources.

"There is the potential for Obama to mount a 50-state campaign," Graham said. "If there is enough excitement, it could drain the resources (of McCain), and it could make the race here competitive."

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, the Springdale Republican who crushed his primary opponent Tuesday while receiving almost twice as many votes as his opponents combined, said McCain and Graham will be a buoy to GOP office-seekers this fall.

"I look forward to being on the ticket with Lindsey Graham, and I also believe Sen. McCain will be very strong in this state," Wilson said.

Graham said he also believes McCain will have success in South Carolina his fall but that all won't be lost for Democrats.

"I just have a feeling that McCain will probably win this state, but it will be closer than it's been in recent years and there will be a lot of enthusiasm for Democrats," he said.

History Made: GOP Captures County Council Majority

Contact: Tom Swatzel (843) 222-7456

GEORGETOWN--By winning the special election yesterday for the Georgetown County Council District-5 seat, Republican Austin Beard made history by becoming a part of a first ever Republican majority on the council.

Beard defeated Democrat Murray Vernon and petition candidate Willie Moore for the seat that was vacated by Sel Hemingway, who was hired as county administrator. The term will run through the end of the year.

"Austin is to be congratulated for running an outstanding campaign. His victory shows the continued growing strength of the Georgetown County Republican Party, and again demonstrates that county voters strongly support our conservative party platform versus the liberal tax and spend ways of the Democrats," said Georgetown County Republican Party Chairman Tom Swatzel.

Beard also overwhelming defeated Willie Moore in the Republican Primary. He will face Vernon again in the November general election for the four year council term.

Beard will join Republicans Ron Charlton, Jerry Oakley and Glen O'Connell on the council.

Republicans never even had a seat on the Georgetown County Council until 1994 when Swatzel also made history by becoming the first Republican elected to the council.

Election Results:
Special Election- Austin Beard 49.45%, Murray Vernon 37.91%, Willie Moore 12.64%
Republican Primary- Austin Beard 74.56%, Willie Moore 25.44%