Voters Oust Council Incumbents

District 5 Councilman Elect Marion Robinson (left) gets the call with the results Tuesday night as his wife Vickie listens in. (Photo/Barbara Ball)

Recount Triggered in District 3

WINNSBORO – The winds of change swept through the voting booths in Fairfield County Tuesday night, leaving in their wake a pair of County Council incumbents with a third teetering on the edge of a recount. Those same winds, meanwhile, also blew into office a 24-year-old reform-minded candidate who says he is ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work changing the way Council does business.

“There are a lot of things I want to get done, but the first thing is to fix our County Council,” Billy Smith, the District 7 Councilman Elect said late Tuesday. “I think we need some changes to our bylaws. We’ve got to get our County Council in order before we can get our county in order.”

Smith beat out a pair of challengers for the seat being vacated by David Brown, who announced his retirement last June. Smith earned a whopping 590 votes in District 7 (60.64 percent) over Winnsboro Town Councilman Clyde Sanders’s 204 (20.97 percent) and David Brandenburg’s 173 (17.78 percent).

Smith said he would like to see the Council put in a paid-by-attendance policy, while also reducing Council’s salaries, eliminating paid mileage for travel to and from regular meetings and eliminating County-paid home internet service and cell phones, which he called “perks and benefits.”

“If you eliminate those perks and benefits, you might get a better group of people who are in it to serve the County and not themselves,” Smith said.

Smith was by far the biggest winner in Tuesday night’s shakeup of County Council, but he won’t be the only new face come January, when the new members are sworn into office.

In District 1, Ridgeway businessman Dan Ruff ousted incumbent and Vice Chairman Dwayne Perry, hauling in 468 votes (41.09 percent) over Perry’s 366 votes (32.13 percent). Michael Squirewell also made the race competitive, garnering 305 votes (26.78 percent).

“I want to thank everyone who voted, and especially those who voted for me,” Ruff said. “And I want to congratulate Dwayne and Michael on a good campaign. They were both good friends of mine and still are. It was a good, clean campaign.”

County Council’s long-standing Chairman, David Ferguson, was also unseated Tuesday night by challenger Marion Robinson. Robinson took home 471 votes (47.96 percent) to Ferguson’s 302 (30.75 percent). Eugene Holmes, meanwhile, earned 207 votes (21.08 percent).

Late Tuesday night Robinson said that he was still in shock after the win.

“I was hoping to win, of course, but I didn’t expect to win like this,” Robinson said. “This change couldn’t have been made without the people.”

Robinson said he plans to meet with the other new Council members before the January inauguration to plan an agenda for the new administration.

“There are so many things that need to be changed,” Robinson said, “but we have to start out slow. We have to study them.”

One race was still too close to call late Tuesday, so close that it triggered an automatic recount.

In District 3, incumbent Mikel Trapp edged out challenger Walter Larry Stewart, 489 votes (43.58 percent) to 484 (43.14 percent). Tangee Brice Jacobs took in 147 votes (13.10 percent). The less than 1 percent margin of victory between Trapp and Stewart, according to state law, means a mandatory recount Friday morning. The recount will include, according to law, “voting machine, absentee, provisional, emergency and failsafe votes.”

Other county races produced far less drama. In the race for the District 1 School Board seat, incumbent Andrea Harrison fended off Marvin Robinson, 535 votes (53.23 percent) to 468 (46.57 percent). She was the only Board member facing a challenge Tuesday. Henry Miller returns to District 3 with 797 votes, Beth Reid to District 7 with 793 votes and Carl E. Jackson Jr. will fill the District 5 seat being vacated by Bobby Cunningham with 843 votes.

State Rep. MaryGail Douglas (D-41) was also unopposed Tuesday. At press time, Douglas was on her way back to Columbia with 9,049 votes.

In the race for the Sixth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, being vacated by Doug Barfield, unofficial results at press time had Randy Newman Jr. (R) beating out William Frick (D) 16,938 votes to 15,646 in a race that comprised Fairfield, Chester and Lancaster counties.

Other County Results at Press Time

County Treasurer (no challenger) – Norma Branham, 7,427.

County Auditor (no challenger) – Peggy Hensley, 7,156.

Probate Judge (no challenger) – Pam Renwick, 7,228.

Soil & Water District Commission (no challenger) – Eric F. Cathcart, 4,738.

Rocky Creek Watershed (2) – Claudia F. Dean, 42; William F. Wishert, 46.

Jackson Mill Watershed & Wateree Creek Watershed – Write-in results not available at press time.

All results are unofficial until certified by the County Election Commission Friday morning.


  1. Mark Polk says

    Congratulations to those elected to office. Please remember that you represent all of the county, not just your district or area. Put the people’s interests first before your own.

  2. Norm_Nav says

    I think the message is clear, the Folks in Fairfield had been asking for honesty and transparency but the Incumbents weren’t interested in providing either. Now we see the results of their intransigence.

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