SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - With just two weeks left until the ballots are cast, candidates in the race for Surfside Beach Town Council are working to make sure their names stand out among the crowd.
The group of candidates had surged to 11 by the filing date for just three open seats. Only one incumbent filed to fight for another term.
At the Village Cafe in Surfside there is no shortage of talk about the race as customers dig into their morning breakfasts.
"It pops up more than the usual conversation lately," said Steve Warren, who lives in Surfside Beach and says there is a certain openness and inability to hide in small town politics.
Jim Barnette, who owns the Surfside Rent Mart down the street, agrees: "In Horry County, politics is a sport."
Barnette says he too has been paying attention to all of the signs that are starting to dot yards in the small town. As a business owner he is hoping to send a message of his own to candidates.
"I would probably say, 'Listen more to the businesses,'" Barnette said. "Give us a break. We have a lot of needs from the business standpoint to try to create more activity in the area."
Across the street at Surfside Hardware, Tommy Benton says his business has been off by up to 70 percent.
"The town needs business people on the council," Benton argued. "If you've never been in business you have no clue what we go through. It's a struggle every day to open these doors."
Benton says he does see hope in the candidates coming forward.
"A lot of these people are business people," Benton explained. "I think they're tired of not having any representation on council."
Benton says the number of candidates is likely to mix things up come election day on April 6.
"People haven't been going against the incumbents," Benton said, "but it looks like we may get some new blood in there."
Residents will have an opportunity to meet the candidates at a Candidate Forum to be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 28, in Council Chambers. The forum will include a question and answer format followed by a "meet your candidates" opportunity.