Blythewood’s RC council reps sworn into office

COLUMBIA – Richland County Council kicked off a new term Tuesday with the swearing in of five new members, three of whom represent parts of Blythewood 29016. All won election in November and the three representing Blythewood were well supported by Blythewood voters.

Blythewoodian Derrek Pugh took longtime councilwoman Joyce Dickerson’s District 2 seat to represent the majority of Blythewood in a district that stretches across the top of the county above Rimer Pond Road and Cedar Creek, to the Broad River. He was sworn in by fellow Blythewoodian Traci Cooper.

“My father dropped me off at Benedict College 20 years ago and told me to make him proud,” Pugh said after being sworn in. “And here we are today – from a young man to a man who is representing the second largest district in the county. Don’t tell me dreams don’t come true.”

Pugh promised to lead with integrity, transparency and a commitment to excellence.

Gretchen Barron unseated Gwendolyn Kennedy to represent District 7, which takes in the south side of Rimer Pond Road, part of LongCreek Plantation, the lower part of Cedar Creek and on south.

Barron told those attending the ceremony that she would not apologize for who she is.

“It’s time to go to work. There’s 11 people showing up for council this year who are going to change the narrative of Richland County,” she said. “It’s no longer acceptable to allow the media to spin our stories. We’ll take charge. We’ll spin our stories.”

She concluded, saying enthusiastically, “I’m Gretchen Barron, and I’m your councilwoman for District 7 on county council!”

 Jessica Mackey won an election runoff held to fill the seat of District 9 representative Calvin ‘Chip’ Jackson last summer after he died unexpectedly. Mackey’s district includes a small portion of the western side of LongCreek Plantation and to the south and southeast.

“I’m honored and excited to serve District 9 and Richland County,” Mackey said. “And I look forward to working with all of my fellow council members to lead Richland County forward.”

Also sworn in on Tuesday were Overture Walker who won the District 8 seat vacated after Jim Manning decided not to run again, and Cheryl English who won the race for the District 10 seat after besting incumbent Dalhi Meyers in the June Democratic Primary. She received an early appointment by Governor Henry McMaster to Meyers’ seat after Meyers was indicted on Dec. 17, by a grand jury on 24 charges that include embezzlement, writing a fraudulent check, spending campaign funds for personal use and misconduct in her county council office.

The new Council members were sworn in during individual ceremonies open to their immediate families and streamed live online.  County facilities remain closed to the public because of the COVID-19 health crisis.

Also on Tuesday evening during the new council’s first meeting of the year, council members re-elected Councilman Paul Livingston to serve as its Chair and Councilwoman Yvonne McBride as Vice Chair. Livingston, previously served as chair in 2019, 2020, from 2009 to 2011 and from 2000 to 2002.