On Jan. 12, 2021, Sumter County Council held its first meeting with members elected in the Nov. 3, 2020, General Election. Democratic council members (Baten and McGhaney) and Republican member (Byrd) were reelected. In Council District 1, a new council member (Carlton Washington) was elected to replace the incumbent (Sumpter). The other council members, Baker and Edens (Republicans) and McCain (Democrat) will reelect in November 2022.
Following established rules, council members voted to elect a chairman and vice chairman for the next two-year term. As predicted, this was another preplanned "Dog and Pony Show." For the third consecutive time, the minority party (three Republicans) nominated Councilman McCain (Democrat) to be the chairman. In turn, McCain will vote for Councilman Byrd (Republican) to be the vice chairman. Once again, the Republican minority party, with Councilman McCain's help, elected who they wanted to be the chairman and vice chairman of county council.
The reelection of Councilman McCain is against past practices of the majority party of county council. The person in the chairman's position is not permanent and is rotated after one or two terms (two to four years), allowing other council members to demonstrate their leadership skills and improve community relations. This practice resulted in my election as council chairman (January 2011 - December 2012/Continental Tire acquisition) and Judge Larry Blanding, former council chairman (January 2013 - 2014).
Councilman McCain's reelection was opposed by all other Democratic members of County Council. Unlike the City of Sumter, where the citizens elect the mayor, the county council chairman and vice chairman are elected by a majority vote of council members. Electing a different chairman enhances teamwork and prevents a person from developing a dictatorial demeanor.
Sadly, Chairman McCain's support by the minority party is a delusion because they vote in opposition to him on major issues. They have consistently voted against him to support funding that the Sumter School District is entitled to by S.C. law and support for our military veterans.
In my opinion, Chairman McCain's election is not in the best interest of the Sumter Democratic Party.
EUGENE R. BATEN
Sumter County Council
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