Hemphill, McMeekin face off for Mayor’s seat

WINNSBORO – After 16 years in office, Winnsboro Mayor Roger Gaddy is stepping down in April when Winnsboro voters will choose his successor.

When filing closed at the Fairfield County Office of Voter Registration and Elections last Friday, two candidates emerged to take aim at the seat Gaddy will leave behind – Nocola Hemphill and current Winnsboro town councilman John McMeekin. McMeekin’s own term expires in April as well.

Hemphill, 44, of Zion Street, described herself as an independent consultant who specializes in marketing, branding and entrepreneurship. She is the chairwoman of the local chapter of the Democratic Black Caucus of South Carolina.

“This is a huge race of historical significance,” Hemphill, who grew up in Winnsboro, told The Voice. “If I win, I will be the first black mayor and the first woman mayor of the town.”

Hemphill studied biology and chemistry at South Carolina State University. She is the single mother of a daughter, 17; a son, 13 and an adult son.

McMeekin, 66, of Evans Street, is the current District 4 representative on Winnsboro Town Council. He is a former businessman in Winnsboro who for many years owned Winnsboro Furniture Store on N. Congress Street. McMeekin was first elected to council in 2017 when he ran unopposed to fill the seat after Jackie Wilkes stepped down following the end of his fourth term.

McMeekin is mayor pro-tem and serves as chairman of council’s finance committee. He has also served as chairman of the Zoning Board of Adjustments and on other town and civic boards and commissions.

He holds a degree in history/government from Erskine College.

McMeekin and his wife Lanna have a married daughter.

Two seats in the Town of Winnsboro Town Council race are up for re-election in April.

Incumbent Janice Bartell Prather, of Hunstanton Drive, represents District 2. She is unopposed in her bid for a second term. Bartell was first elected in 2017.

Bartell owns a Winnsboro business, the Vanity Stylon Beauty Salon. Bartell is married to Bob Prather.

James Jae Burroughs, 36, who said he is currently recovering from COVID-19, is unopposed in his quest for the District 4 seat which is being vacated by mayoral candidate John McMeekin.

Burroughs, a former deputy with the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office, is now employed as an insurance agent. He said he is running for office to bring a younger perspective to the town’s leadership.

Burroughs is a graduate of Richard Winn Academy and studied at Midlands Technical College. He is married to Chelsey and they have a son, 8, and a daughter, 5.

“I grew up in Winnsboro,” Burroughs said. “I would like to see the town do better, and I would like to be a part of making it better.”

The election is set for April 6.