Stewart Resigns

District 3 up for Grabs in November

Walter Stewart

Walter Stewart

WINNSBORO (June 2, 2016) – Walter Larry Stewart, who successfully appealed the November 2014 election results and unseated incumbent Mikel Trapp in a new election in March 2015, has officially resigned his District 3 County Council seat.

In a letter dated May 24, Stewart informed the Fairfield County Board of Elections that he was resigning effective June 30. Stewart cited an unspecified health issue as the reason for his resignation.

Stewart in his letter said he would “continue to serve until an election is called or someone is designated to fill the position.” Debbie Stidham, Director of Fairfield County Elections and Voter Registration, said that since Stewart’s resignation was less than 180 days before the Nov. 8 general election, no special election would be called. Instead, she said, the District 3 County Council seat would be included on the ballot this November.

Stidham said she forwarded Stewart’s resignation to Gov. Nikki Haley’s office, which has the option to appoint someone to serve District 3 until a newly elected member can be sworn in in January. There was no word at press time if such an appointment would be made.

Candidates interested in filling the two years remaining on Stewart’s term must file by petition by July 15 at the Voter Registration and Elections Office at 315 S. Congress St., Winnsboro.

Trapp edged out Stewart 489-484 in the November 2014 race, with the less than 1 percent margin triggering an automatic recount. The recount the following Friday unearthed one additional vote for Stewart and enough irregularities for Stewart to file an official protest of the results.

Debra Matthews, a Winnsboro attorney who represented the Stewart campaign in 2014, said after the recount that some absentee ballots did not conform to the state statute and three voters were given the incorrect ballot style at their polling place.

Stewart’s camp prevailed in the protest hearing before the Fairfield County Election Commission, which ordered a new election. Trapp filed an appeal with the State Election Commission, which upheld the County Commission’s decision in a hearing in early December 2014.

Gov. Haley set the new election date for March 3, 2015, at which time Stewart handily dispatched Trapp 429-380.

Efforts to reach Stewart for comment before press time were unsuccessful. Trapp, meanwhile, told The Voice that he had “no interest” at this time in running for his old seat again.