MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Local businesswoman Brenda Bethune defeated incumbent John Rhodes Tuesday to become the next mayor of Myrtle Beach, the first time a female has held the position.
According to unofficial results from Tuesday's runoff election, Bethune got 67 percent of the total vote to Rhodes' 33 percent.
She'll take over the seat that Rhodes has held for 12 years, following his first election victory in 2005.
"I feel ecstatic. I feel overwhelmed, just a flood of emotions," Bethune said after the results came in.
When announcing her candidacy this summer, Bethune said the city needs "fresh vision" and a person who is "committed to constant progression of our community."
Looking ahead, Bethune said as mayor, she'll be there for the people of Myrtle Beach.
"I will listen. I will listen more than I will talk," she said. "I will build relationships with our community. I will reach out to the community for their ideas and their perspective on things, and I truly want to be a voice."
According to her mayoral candidate Facebook page, Bethune is the CEO and majority owner of Better Brands, Inc. She also owns BJ Investments, a local property investment and rental company, as well as two bridal boutiques.
As he sat in city council chambers and watched the election results roll in, Rhodes couldn't help but get emotional.
"I've had 12 years to represent the city; it's been an honor and privilege," Rhodes said. "I look forward to the city moving forward. We will continue to grow and continue to be the best beach resort in America."
Bethune and Rhodes were the top vote-getters in the Nov. 7 general election, although neither received more than 50 percent of the total vote.
The other three mayoral hopefuls in the general election were former mayor Mark McBride, Ed Carey and C.D. Rozsa.
Tuesday's mayoral runoff wasn't the only one held across the area.
In Hartsville, Tre Gammage defeated Adlena Graham for the District 1 seat on the Hartsville City Council, 59 percent to 41 percent, according to unofficial results.
Sheila Baccus proved victorious in the runoff for Ward 1 of the Darlington City Council, defeating opponent Coleman Cannon with 64 percent of the total vote to 36 percent.