The recent passing of Joe Defeo has left an opening for Horry County School Board Chairman. A special Republican primary election for that seat will be held on July 17th.
This past week, Patricia Milley and Ken Richardson met on a panel to discuss why they each believed they were the best person to fill that vacancy. The forum was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Horry County.
Ken Richardson is Chairman Emeritus of Horry Georgetown Technical College. Richardson was first appointed by the Governor to that board in 1998. He has served on the board of HGTC for 20 years, 16 of those as chairman. A resident of Conway, Mr. Richardson is the retired owner of Fowler Motors. Fowler Motors was the leading car dealership in Horry County for over the past several decades.
Patricia Milley is a former school teacher. The two were joined on the panel by Democrat Heather Johnson, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.
MyrtleBeachSC news circulated a video of the event on our Facebook page, at Facebook.com/scmyrtlebeach. The video has now been seen by over 1.3 thousand viewers in the past 24 hours. Comments left by those viewers made it clear that school safety, the continued rapid growth of Horry County, and the financial stewardship of county schools are the key issues for voters in this election cycle.
Richardson told MyrtleBeachSC news, “I have spent the last twenty years right here at Horry Georgetown Technical College. I have a business background and I know how to use it. When I was at Fowler Motors, we did over $50 million a year in gross sales. At Horry Georgetown Technical College, we have a $75 million dollar budget. I just saw $80 million in capital improvements. The school board is $750 million and I am not scared of big numbers.”
PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN
Richardson told the panel that during Governor McMaster’s last visit campaigning in our area, he approached the Governor about ensuring that a police officer be present in every local school. Governor McMaster is now choosing to make that issue among his highest priorities as he runs for re-election.
Residents we spoke with after the event this past Friday agreed that school safety has to be paramount for their children. With the recent shootings and events in D.C. this past week, no parent wants to drop a child off, trapped in an unsafe, predatory, soft target environment. Richardson has pledged to make school safety among his highest priorities.
Patricia Milley stated she believed mental illness was the number one issue facing Horry County school children.
“Our children, one out of four, have mental problems,” said Milley. “If we were not breeding shooters and would address the (mental) cause, we wouldn’t need guns,” Milley told the panel.
FINANCIAL STEWARDSHIP REQUIRES TOUGH NEGOTIATING
As Horry County continues to grow, past issues like the TIF taxes collected at Market Common for a promised school (monies which the city of Myrtle Beach has since tried to re-allocate) will require a School Board Chairman who is skilled in diplomacy and one who is keen in negotiating. The now deceased former Chairman, Joe Defeo, took the city of Myrtle Beach to task stating that the city of Myrtle Beach was taking $20 million from Horry County students.
In November 2017, My Horry News reported,
Typically TIF funds are used for infrastructure or public projects. According to Mike Shelton, Chief Financial Officer for the city of Myrtle Beach, there was an initial investment in the Market Common area at the former base of approximately $43 million.
In the original TIF established when the air base regional development authority was set up, $20 million was put in to go to the Horry County school district for a new school in that area.
But now, the city of Myrtle Beach wants to use that money to pay off some bonds and provide infrastructure assistance to a developer that wants to put a hotel and more multi-family housing in the area, according to Shelton.
So to come up with that money, the city wants to remove a proposed natatorium, a boat landing and the $20 million for the school. (Monies the city of Myrtle Beach has already collected for Horry County Schools.)
Richardson believes his business acumen best equips him for dealing with issues like school safety, financial stewardship, and negotiating past issues like the above.
Richardson, whose time at HGTC proved him to be a tough, but principled and fair leader stated he will fight to put students first in Horry County.
Republicans Richardson and Milley face off among voters at the polls in a June 17th Republican primary. The winner will face Democrat Heather Johnson in November.