Jackie Williams and Tom Winslow would normally be outspoken political opponents.
Williams is a Democrat and Winslow is a Republican and both are hoping to unseat Carl Anderson in the S.C. House 103 race in November.
But, both were removed from the ballot because of the recent South Carolina Supreme Court rulings concerning the way statement of economic interest forms were supposed to be filed.
They were among more than 200 candidates statewide — and more than a dozen in Georgetown and Williamsburg Counties — disqualified for that same reason.
On Monday, Williams and Winslow held a press conference for what Williams said was an effort to help most of the local candidates who were deemed ineligible to get on the November ballot by running as petition candidates.
However, later in the day Winslow sent the Georgetown Times a statement saying his only purpose at the press conference was to show support for Williams’ efforts to get on the ballot.
Williams and Winslow said they will work together to collect the signatures they need before the July 16 deadline.
“I have agreed to work with Jackie Williams to get these signatures for House Seat 103 and I encourage all voters to sign the petitions that are at the polling stations. However, I can not speak for the party as a whole or on behalf of the other candidates or their positions. I am working with Jackie Williams, so that we can both be on the ballot come November. During the press conference both Williams and Winslow read the names of other impacted local candidates. The message delivered by Williams before the names were read was these are candidates she and Winslow would be working with in the signature-collecting effort.
The names read by the two during the press conference include: Jarrod Ownbey, seeking House Seat 108; Darryel Carr, running for Sheriff; Rod Stalvey, running for auditor; and Mike Andrews running for treasurer.
There are other local candidates who have been removed from the ballot such as Bubba Grimes, seeking the County Council District 5 seat and Ben Dunn, seeking the same seat. They were not mentioned at the press conference.
Winslow did call out the name of Tammie Avant, running for clerk of court, but the Georgetown Times was later told Avant — although she is seeking signatures to be a petition candidate — “is not part of the coalition.”
Williams said every effort will be made to get the ineligible candidates on the November ballot.
“We are unified and committed and fully engaged,” Williams said. The petition candidates will be working together to collect signatures as a group in many instances in the next month.
“We as leaders need to make sure the voters rights to choose are not violated,”
Williams said, calling the court decision “unfair” and “unjust.”
She said the group will work to make sure voters know the candidates did nothing wrong.
“We followed the instructions we were given. The system of government and laws failed us and failed the voters,” she said. “This will be the year of the petition candidate.”
Winslow said “this is a voter issue, not a candidate issue. I do not blame anyone for this. Blaming doesn’t help anyone,” Winslow said. He continued by saying he encourages everyone who signs his petition, to also sign the petitions of Williams.
Organizational meeting is Saturday
A community-wide organizational meeting will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday when more of the impacted candidates are expected to be on hand.
The meeting will take place at Covenant Missionary Baptist Church located at 1414 Winyah Street in Georgetown.
Williams and Winslow are encouraging the public to show up to find out more about how they can help the candidates.
“We are going to set up mass petition drives,” Williams said.
Volunteers are being sought to help collect the signatures. Anyone who would like to help is asked to be at Saturday’s meeting.
A person’s signature will count only if they live in the district of the candidate whose petition they sign.
The candidates stress just because someone signs a petition, they are not promising to vote for that person in November.
“You are only signing to restore people’s rights to choose who they want to vote for,” Williams said.
She also said she is expecting to have petitions available at each of the polling places tomorrow.
New possible candidate emerges
In the midst of all the disqualified candidates, a new name popped up Tuesday in the race for county auditor
Kathy Harrelson, who has worked for outgoing Auditor Linda Mock for the past six years, was collecting signatures Tuesday in hopes of getting on the ballot for that race in November.
“I have worked hard to help bring things up to date in that office. I want to see the progress we have made continue,” said Harrelson, whose official title is Auditor Clerk 2.
She said she will be working hard in the next month to get the required number of signatures.
By Scott Harper
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