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Myrtle Beach City Council honored Wayne Gray for his past service yesterday with a commemorative plaque from the city.
Questions remain, however, if Mr. Gray is truly gone… OR does he continue to have a strong influence on City Council working behind the scenes?
WAYNE GRAY – THE TRIPLE THREAT
No one questions that Mr. Gray is popular among the hold-overs from the previous city council. Those councilmen include Lowder, Render, Chestnut, and especially Jeffcoat. They are all enamored with Gray’s certain skill set. Those skill sets, however, did not necessarily serve the city well, which resulted in a change election.
Questions have been raised by a few merchants close to Gray as to whether he has been calling and politicking with former colleagues when critical city business is put on the agenda.
Is Mr. Gray operating as an unpaid consultant or lobbyist with this small group of hold-over city councilmen?
Many residents on social found it troubling when Gray’s wife was appointed to the Community Appearance Board just yesterday.
Twelve highly qualified candidates applied including Ann Dunham. Most found it remarkable that Gray’s wife became the ultimate choice. MyrtleBeachSC.com was told by sources close to the board, that Gray’s wife was appointed over strong objections by some in local government.
GRAY’S CONTINUING INFLUENCE
Gray’s strongest influence remains with like-minded and outspoken city councilwoman Mary Jeffcoat. She is now consistently out front on almost any item that comes before the council. Other former hold-over councilmen have long-held, strong alliances to Gray as well.
Wayne’s cousin, Steve Chapman, sits as Chairman of the Grand Strand Business Alliance, the most powerful PAC in our area. The Grand Strand Business Alliance is closely aligned to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
A WEAK AND CONTROVERSIAL CITY MANAGER
Then there’s this. Many merchants, residents, and area county residents want City Manager John Pedersen fired immediately. While he is clearly an unpopular City Manager, a few, key merchants we spoke with yesterday informed us that if he were fired, several hold-overs from the last administration would vote to have Gray in the job within hours.
Pedersen’s best strategy moving forward might be to triangulate. Leading a coalition of, at times, 4 councilmen including the 3 newly elected in a four to three vote win, and then, at other times, leading a coalition of Mary Jeffcoat and the four she puts together.
GRAY CAN’T LOSE
Whether it’s submarining the current mayor so Gray can run for that spot in 2021 or being presented the job of City Manager, should Pedersen get fired, Gray is in the cat bird’s seat.
Many residents, however, have informed MyrtleBeachSC.com that they would like to see the Gray era put “fully” in Myrtle Beach’s rear view window.