Myrtle Beach city council race begins with unexpected twist

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The political race for three seats on Myrtle Beach City Council is just warming up, and there has already been an unexpected twist.

By the Friday deadline ten candidates, including the three incumbents, had filed to run for the city council seats. However, on Monday morning Mark McBride removed his name from the running.

McBride ran for mayor in 2009, taking the race to a runoff with incumbent John Rhodes, who ultimately received the most votes.

The remaining candidates have less than 30 days to campaign before the November 1 election.

Voter Jo Ellis said Monday she hopes that having the field of candidates set will spark some interest in the race.

"We care about Myrtle Beach and what goes on here," Ellis said about her circle of friends.

Political media consultant Mary Henry said name recognition will be key for the candidates, especially the six challengers.

"People aren't going to be able to push an 'R' or a 'D' or an Independent this time," Henry said. "You're not going to be Republican, Democrat. It's just going to be listed alphabetically on the ballot, and this is the only race that people are going to be voting for."

Rick McCarvill said he will be eager to find out more about the candidates. He just moved to Myrtle Beach from North Myrtle Beach. He said so far he has not heard much about them, but he expects that will change now that the filing deadline has passed.

"I'm really not familiar with any incumbents or any former candidates, or any new candidates, not yet," McCarvill said.

Henry said candidates will have to work quickly to get their names out to the public and gain supporters. She expects a lot of campaigning in a short amount of time.

"They're probably going to walking, walking the neighborhoods," she said. "Expect a lot of direct mail, and if history repeats itself we're going to have a candidate or two that loves to roto-dial."

Ultimately Henry said the biggest test for the challengers will be if they can set themselves apart from the incumbents, and if voters want to see a change.

"When a candidate needs to differentiate themselves between people that are the incumbents, how do you do that?" Henry explained. "Where are you going to go? Where are you dissatisfied with what's already going on?"

Voter Susan Sabo said she is not convinced there needs to be change. However, she said she hopes the campaigning succeeds in delivering more information to her.

"I'd like to see what they have to say for one, and see who is actually putting their name out there," Sabo commented.

Henry said a few candidate forums in the next month may also help voters get to know the candidates.

She also believes November 1 will not be the end of the election. With so many candidates she predicts a runoff may be needed for at least one of the seats.

Copyright 2011 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

Candidates running for the three open Myrtle Beach City Council seats in 2011:

Joyce M. Barnes

David Bodle

Michael Chestnut (I)

Ann Coghlan

Beulah Sharon Collar

William Howard

Susan Grissom Means (I)

Robert Anthony Palmer

Philip Render (I)