FLORENCE, S.C. — As many as five seats on the seven-member Florence City Council could be changing hands in the coming months.
Two at-large seats
City residents will be electing two new at-large members to the council on Nov. 3. Running for those seats are Democrats Lethonia "Peaches" Barnes and Chaquez McCall and Republicans Steve Byrd and John Sweeney.
The current at-large seat holders are Octavia Williams-Blake and Glynn F. Willis. Williams-Blake elected not to run for reelection and Willis was defeated by Barnes and McCall in the June 9 primary.
Since there were only two Republicans running for two seats, there was no primary on that side of the ballot, and Byrd and Sweeney advanced to the general election.
Florence residents will also be electing a new mayor on Nov. 3.
Current Mayor Stephen J. Wukela elected not to run for reelection.
The two candidates are Democrat Teresa Myers Ervin and Republican Bryan Braddock. Myers Ervin won a runoff against fellow city council member George D. Jebaily to advance to the general election. Braddock was the only Republican to run, thus there was no primary election.
If Myers Ervin is elected mayor, she will assume that role on the council, vacating the District 1 seat she currently holds.
A special election would be called to fill that seat, which represents the northwestern portion of the city.
Meaning four faces will be in new places after all elections are done: Myers Ervin as mayor, the two at-large winners, and her replacement in District 1.
If Braddock is elected mayor, Myers Ervin would stay in her District 1 seat.
Meaning there would be three new faces: Braddock and the two at-large winners.
Mayor Pro Tempore Frank J. "Buddy" Brand II currently represents District 3 on the council. That district includes the southwestern part of the city of Florence.
He was reelected to a four-year term in 2018.
But he's currently running for the Republican nomination in the special election to replace late Florence County Councilman James T. Schofield. Also running is Schofield's son, William.
That primary is scheduled for Aug. 18. The special election will be held on Nov. 3, the same date as the general election.
What happens in this race determines how many members of the city council will be new or in new roles.
If Brand were to win that election, a special election would be called to fill his seat on the Florence City Council. Meaning four or five members of the city council would be new or in new roles.
If Brand wins the special election to replace Schofield and Myers Ervin wins the mayoral race, after all the special elections, five members will be new or in new roles: Myers Ervin as mayor, the two at-large winners, Myers Ervin's replacement in District 1, and Brand's replacement in District 3.
In this scenario, the only two members of the council to continue in the same role from 2020 to 2021 would be Jebaily and Pat Gibson-Hye Moore.
If Brand wins the special election and Braddock wins the mayoral race, four members of the council will be new: Braddock as mayor, the two at-large winners, and Brand's replacement in District 3.
In this scenario, the council members to hold their current places would be Myers Ervin in District 1, Gibson-Hye Moore and Jebaily.
If Brand does not win the special election to fill Schofield's seat, he will stay in the city council seat he currently holds. Meaning three or four new members or currently members in new roles.
If Brand doesn't win the special election to replace Schofield and Myers Ervin is elected mayor, four members of the council will be new or in new roles: Myers Ervin as mayor, the two at-large winners, and her replacement in District 1.
The members to keep their current seats would be Brand, Jebaily, and Gibson-Hye Moore.
If Brand does't win and Braddock is elected mayor, three members will be new: Braddock as mayor and the two at-large winners.
Four members of the council would be in the same seats: Brand, Myers Ervin, Jebaily, and Gibson-Hye Moore.
Regardless of what scenario happens, the city council is in for its first change since Gibson-Hye Moore was elected in a special election.
However, it will not be the only governing body with changes in members in the Pee Dee.
Two members of the Florence County Council will be new: Schofield's replacement in District 8 and either Democrat Kenneth McAllister or Republican Jerry Yarborough in District 4.
Also, Angie Stone Godbold will be replacing Robert Kilgo to represent District 1 on the Darlington County Council.
Also, Florence County residents will vote to elect a new sheriff, either Democrat Darrin Yarborough or Republican T.J. Joye.
And Darlington County could elect a new sheriff, too, either Democrat James Hudson or Republican Michael August. There is a write-in campaign to keep current Sheriff Tony Chavis.