FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) - A Florence city councilwoman and a political newcomer are facing off in the general election to fill the seat of outgoing Mayor Stephen Wukela.
Teresa Myers Ervin, who is also an ICU nurse, and non-profit leader Bryan Braddock are vying for the votes to become Florence’s new mayor.
Democratic candidate, Myers Ervin, was elected to the city council in 2010 and was an instrumental part of the development of Downtown Florence.
As mayor, she wants to move Florence forward in community and economic development, and focus on bringing new jobs and businesses to the city.
“I have a vision for where we need to go, so as mayor I want to focus on moving Florence forward, and as a graduate of the school system and Francis Marion I want to implement things that would retain our students here but not only that attract new people here so we can continue to grow together as one city," said Myers Ervin.
Myers Ervin believes small businesses are the most important part of any city.
“I will bring forth a shared space community where we can enhance our small businesses giving our small businesses an opportunity to grow because you can have big-box businesses, but your small businesses or ‘mom and pops’ are the soul of any community," said Myers Ervin.
While Downtown Florence has become the center of economic growth and development, Myers Ervin wants to focus on revitalizing other parts of the city.
“I’m going to focus on the east corridor of the city of Florence and I will bring beauty right there, and one of the first things I can do is work on the area aesthetically and I will work on partnerships to beautify East Florence as we move Florence forward so we’ll have beauty throughout our whole city," said Myers Ervin.
Myers Ervin’s Republican challenger, Bryan Braddock, is also a lifelong resident of Florence who serves as the executive director of the House of Hope of the Pee Dee.
House of Hope serves over 1,200 homeless people in the community, and Braddock believes it has given him the practical leadership experience to serve as mayor of Florence.
“Every day I have people that we’re serving with the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, and looking for the resources to do that and that’s what a mayor does, he has an issue and they coalesce with other people to find resources to meet that issue," said Braddock.
Braddock’s main focus is community safety and economic development which he believes go hand in hand.
He believes Florence’s crime rate is a major concern for businesses who want to come to the city, and one way he plans to reduce crime is by turning the lights on.
“Our lighting is a big reason we have crime issues, if we could upgrade our lighting we could decrease crime by 39%, we could avoid accidents and extend shopping hours," said Braddock.
Economic expansion is a big part of Braddock’s campaign and he wants to make sure the entire city of Florence is prospering.
“We need to meet with local CEOs and say how can we make Florence attractive to new business and that’s what we need to do I’ve got friends in economic development with NESA, and I want to sit down with them and say how can we change this resume Florence is giving businesses," said Braddock.
For the first time in nearly 20 years, one of these candidates will become the new mayor of Florence. The polls will open Nov. 3 at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.