HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - An official recount completed Saturday afternoon confirmed victory for challenger Johnny Gardner in the race for Horry County Council chairman.
Tuesday's primary between Gardner and incumbent Mark Lazarus finished with a 1 percent differential which triggered an automatic recount according to South Carolina Law.
"I believe that I have served all of the citizens well," said Mark Lazarus in his concession speech on Saturday. "Horry County is a fast growing area with many challenges. The men and women that work for Horry County are the best. Listen, learn, govern, with the help of [the council] you will experience success," he finished.
There were no Democratic candidates who filed to run for county council chairman, meaning Gardner will run unopposed in November's general election should Lazarus refuse to challenge the results of the recount.
This is Gardner's first time seeking public office and his campaign was based on the three "Rs" – responsibility, reform and respect.
Gardner worked for two years in the 15th Judicial Circuit Solicitor's Office and has been practicing law at his own Conway law firm for more than 25 years.
In regards to the recount delay, it was a number of issues.
One being human error, involving more than 200 votes unaccounted for, but Horry County Elections Director Sandy Martin said they finally got it right.
"We have 124 polling locations, we used over 700 poll workers, most every election, we do our very best and that's all we can do," said Martin.
From unaccounted votes to election races separated by as little as 17 votes, members of the election board spent hours auditing and re-counting votes making sure they got things right.
"We caught it and fixed it and all votes were counted and that's the main thing," Martin assured.
One of the tight races Johnny Gardner leading Mark Lazarus by 113 votes for Horry County chairman, those numbers approved following a recount of more than 24,000 votes.
Lazarus conceding moments later.
"On Tuesday the voters spoke, they want to change in leadership and while I'm disappointed I am proud of my record and my service. I want to thank you for that," said Lazarus.
Gardner was not in attendance due to a prior commitment but his representative attorney Reese Boyd spoke on his behalf.
"I think it's going to be a fresh approach to leadership, there is an appetite from the voters for a change in leadership and change in perspective," said Boyd.
Both Gardener and Lazarus believe the election board did what was right and respect the outcome.
Lazarus will finish his term as Horry County Chairman until December 31, 2018, Johnny Gardener will then take over January 1, 2019.