The county and city resident group Make Myrtle Beaches Free Clean And Safe sent out a questionnaire to all Myrtle Beach applicants for Mayor and City Council over the past few months. According to one member of the group, all questionnaires were returned with the exception of the 3 incumbents, as well as, Myrtle Beach realtor, Gregg Smith, and Myrtle Beach Hotel owner Jackie Vereen.
Estimates are that from 800 to 1,639 highly motivated, city resident voters are active on that Facebook group page. With issues that include: a questionable library build, high city debt, the forced taking of private businesses, high crime, a Chamber tax that has witnessed a decline in city of Myrtle Beach tourists, barricades on Ocean Boulevard, and beach bacteria spikes, posts from city voters on that page have indicated they will walk across hot coals to get to the polls this November 7th.
It is curious to many as to why Mr. Smith and Mrs. Vereen would not respond. Are they assuming this growing group of locals will simply go away on November 8th?
Mr. Smith Goes To City Hall
Gregg Smith’s family are multi-generational long standing city residents. His work with Broadhurst Century 21 Realty, also gives him an in with the Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors who have access to $80,000 in Political Action Campaign funds to loosely support his campaign at arms length. The Coastal Carolina Board of Realtors are closely tied to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber. Realtor Radha Herring of Watermark Real Estate Group is now the Immediate Past Chair of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber Board.
Two key Myrtle Beach realtors we spoke with informed us that Brad Dean, Myrtle Beach Chamber C.E.O. hand picked Mr. Smith himself to replace liberal city councilman Wayne Gray. Mr. Gray decided not to run in the November election. His seat is an open one.
According to local resident sources, Mr. Smith says he supports the tourist tax and supports most of the same programs currently implemented by city government. He is, in fact, running as an incumbent.
In 2013, Ms. Vereen was actually leading the polls when one of the voting machines mysteriously went awal. Incumbents claimed the battery failed? Ms. Vereen was ahead in that very booth when it went down. After riding around in a government vehicle all night, however, the machine was plugged in and magically worked. Mr. Gray, however, suddenly had enough votes to narrowly beat Ms. Vereen and win the razor tight 2013 elections.
If Ms. Vereen is a skeptic, no one in town can blame her. She serves on the powerful Community Appearance Board and has the weighty support of its chair, Larry Bragg. We are told that Mr. Bragg is operating as a quasi unofficial campaign manager for the Vereen camp.
The incumbents only want to engage media that each either control through a local tourism development fee tax or control through their own social media pages. Residents say tight city control and a lack of transparency are the very reasons for the city’s decline.
When asked tough questions by our team on: a questionable tax payer funded building of a new library, eminent domain, high crime, beach bacteria issues, a tourist tax that largely grows tourism in neighboring beach towns, golden mile parking and a tarnished Myrtle Beach brand, each refused to comment. These incumbents actually call such questions cheap shots and unfair attacks.
They also claim showing pictures like these of a Myrtle Beach reality as unfair.
Along with Mr. Smith, each incumbent hopes to ride out the election without addressing the issues and win because of large support from PACs associated with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber and two politically associated hotel groups that do “get out the vote drives” on the day of the election. These political maneuvers have worked well in the past.
MyrtleBeachSC.com spoke with the campaign manager of one incumbent this week who questioned whether any incumbents would actually attend any of the debates scheduled this Fall.
Meanwhile the Myrtle Beach brand continues to SPIRAL DOWN, as can be seen by the graph below. Myrtle Beach is represented by the spiral at the right [the downward spiral] while North Myrtle Beach and other area beaches are represented by spiral left – UPWARD SPIRAL. READ MORE ON HOW THE AD TAX WILL NOT WORK WITHOUT A BRAND IMPROVEMENT