MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - There are seven candidates and only three open seats on the Myrtle Beach City Council and on Tuesday night they got a chance to outline their plans for the city.
The debate was hosted by the NAACP. Incumbents Michael Chestnut, Mary Jeffcoat and Phil Render spoke on key issues against their challengers Edward Carey, John Krajc and former council member Wayne Gray. The seventh candidate, Charles Gasque, was not in attendance.
The moderator covered several hot button issues like redevelopment.
“I’m fully behind the downtown redevelopment plan, I think we just need to move forward and make it happen,” said Chestnut.
Jeffcoat said she’s played a role in bringing tax credits to the downtown area and this has been a player in attracting new business.
“So our downtown is now a historic district. And that means if you invest money into downtown, let’s say you invest $2 million, you could get $500,000 back in tax credits," said Jeffcoat.
Carey said the tax credits have done its job and thinks the city should accommodate developers to grow the city.
“We’re still in the development business. We’re picking and choosing who can go down there. We need to get out of the way of small business. We need to accommodate them. The city shouldn’t be the ones investing all of the money down there because it’s coming out of your pocket,” said Carey.
Also discussed was how to reduce the homeless population within Myrtle Beach. Render is a doctor and, through his experience, said many homeless people are mentally ill.
“There are educational opportunities for those who want to seize the bull by the horns but that is a small percentage. You know you have to appreciate the universe in which we are living. My biggest concern over the opioid issue is the mental health issue which has to be addressed by our state lawmakers,” said Render.
Krajc said he’s looked at what other cities are doing with the homeless and he thinks the city could provide more job and healthcare resources for those people.
“Plyer Park is one of the places the homeless likes to hangout, as well as Nance Plaza where I spend quite a bit of time with my volunteer work. Imagine the pride these folks could feel on a daily basis by being a part of our community through work, through kindness and thorough care,” said Krajc.
Gray thinks the city needs to look at a variety of areas within our government to tackle this issue.
“We’ve got to have strict law enforcement of those who are violating the law. We have to have strict code enforcement of properties that attract that kind of element. We also have to make sure we provide governance and a safe environment where we are allowing the private sector to invest in our economy which is going to create jobs and increase wages to help people move from that place to another,” Gray said.
If you weren’t able to make it to Tuesday’s debate, a second one will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Chapin Memorial Library.
Other Grand Strand races include three open races on the Conway City Council and the Surfside Beach Town Council, and a mayor’s race in Atlantic Beach.
In the Pee Dee, Darlington and Johnsonville residents will each choose a mayor.
Election day is Tuesday, November 5.
For a complete list of area elections, click here.