Decision 2020: 3 Democratic candidates face off in primary to become the next Florence mayor

Decision 2020: 3 Democratic candidates face off in primary to become the next Florence mayor

FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) - For the first time since 2008, Florence will have a new mayor.

Intensive Care Unit nurse Teresa Myers Ervin, educator and former coach Barry McFadden and attorney George Jebaily will face off in the Democratic primary seeking a chance to replace outgoing Mayor Stephen Wukela.

Ervin has worked in the medical field for 39 years and has served on the Florence City Council since 2010.

Rather than make changes, Ervin said as mayor she wants to continue the work she’s been a part of for the last decade as a member of council.

She wants to continue fostering relationships with the local health systems, McLeod and MUSC Florence, and learning institutions, such as Florence School District One, Francis Marion University and Florence Darlington Technical College.

If elected, Ervin wants to continue to grow current Florence businesses and bring new businesses to the city.

“As a councilmember, I’ve always had to serve and lead, so when it comes down to it if you like everything you’ve seen since 2010, you like me because that is a part of my leadership,” said Ervin. “Because I was on the foundation for everything from downtown to the community, and no one can say that. No one has led any of the developments, no one, except for me.”

McFadden is a pastor at Saint Michael United Methodist Church in Kingstree and serves as the assistant principal at Hemingway High School in Williamsburg County where he was formerly a championship basketball coach.

Being involved in athletics, McFadden wants to invest in the recreational department by bringing sports tournaments and leagues to the city.

He said the first thing he would do as mayor is conduct an audit to ensure taxpayer money is being used the right way.

McFadden is running his campaign on transparency and wants the public to be able to trust their mayor is making decisions in their best interest.

“We’re in this race not to get a pat on the back or try and motivate ourselves, but we are out here to try and make Florence a better place to live. Not just for my children, but their children and everyone else’s children that comes along,” said McFadden. “We want to make sure people know the mayor is not a mayorship where we are here to just sit in the office. We are here to make sure Florence thrives.”

Jebaily has practiced law at Jebaily Law Firm since 1984 and has been a managing partner since 2000. Jebaily has served on city council since 2014.

As the next mayor, Jebaily said he would build on the successes Florence has already had.

He was the first chair of the Downtown Development Corporation and has worked to revitalize and grow downtown Florence since 1995.

Jebaily said we live in a time of uncertainty, so it’s important to put the city in a position to move forward rather than take a step backward.

As a small business owner, Jebaily wants to support Florence’s small businesses and continue redevelopment.

Jebaily has held many roles in the community and wants to continue to serve the people of Florence.

“I’m not running against anybody, I’m running for something and I’m offering myself as this is a platform of service and it’s an extension of what I’ve been doing for 50 years since I moved back here in 1984, it’s been about service to the community,” said Jebaily.

Republican candidate for Florence mayor, Bryan Braddock, is running unopposed in the Republican primary and will face off against the winner of the Democratic primary in November’s general election.

Braddock is the executive director of the House of Hope of the Pee Dee, a non-profit organization that serves clothing, shelter, and resources to those in need.

His main goal as mayor would be to lower the crime rate in the city of Florence as he believes it lowers economic development and hurts the overall image of the city.

Braddock said while the development of downtown is great, he wants to redevelop other parts of the city.

“Five years in downtown Florence you see all this growth, but I want to see that growth expand throughout the city. There needs to be the same opportunities on second loop or in the Florence small area. This great and everyone wants to have a nice place to eat a taco or get your hair done but it needs to expand to all parts of Florence.”

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