There appears to be another candidate seeking the Sumter City Council Ward 2 seat in this year's election.
Local entrepreneur Mandie "Elayne" Brunson has hopes to be the next Ward 2 representative after Councilwoman Ione Dwyer announced she will …
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Local entrepreneur Mandie "Elayne" Brunson has hopes to be the next Ward 2 representative after Councilwoman Ione Dwyer announced she will not be running for a fourth term.
One of The Sumter Item's current 20 Under 40 annual contest winners, Brunson said her entire life has been based around politics. During her childhood, Brunson's grandfather was a community trailblazer who served as the Sumter branch of the NAACP president for 13 years, during which she was first introduced to politics and community service.
Since then, she said, she gained experience in working with the NAACP youth committee to establish the youth employment program within the City of Sumter with her grandfather and former Mayor Steve Creech.
She also gained experience in community engagement by speaking out about affordable housing at the City of Sumter Housing Study series and city council meetings, serving on the City of Sumter Community Housing Development Board and serving on the Sumter County Cultural Commission.
Brunson ventured into entrepreneurship as she attended college in West Palm Beach, Florida. However, she returned to her roots in Sumter after her father's untimely death in 2014. Brunson currently operates Angel Maid Cleaning Co. and renovates distressed properties in opportunity zones in Sumter.
She said she believes in being a team player, but to be effective, she thinks everyone in the community must hold one another accountable for progress in making Sumter the best it can be for all its residents.
Brunson has four primary goals for the Ward 2 seat.
First, she plans to have a community cleanup in the ward, which will focus on picking up trash and litter in the area on Saturday mornings.
Second, Brunson wants to enhance business development along South Liberty Street to South Guignard Drive as part of the initiative she recently co-founded, the Sumter Black Chamber of Commerce. She plans to offer aid to the socially disadvantaged group of professionals in the area to help further downtown business growth and development.
Brunson also wants to research and develop ways to increase the quality of the drinking water throughout the City of Sumter.
The fourth goal is to provide affordable housing in the downtown area to include more access to housing for smaller families and older adults.
"I am excited about the growth in Downtown Sumter and the City of Sumter as a whole," Brunson said. "I plan to continue to actively participate in the years to come."
The Rev. James Blassingame, pastor at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, has also announced he intends to run.
Filing begins today at noon and closes on Aug. 17 at noon, and the filing fee is $240. Any registered voter who lives in Ward 2 - the city's southernmost district that covers a western portion of South Sumter from West Liberty Street to South Sumter Street and U.S. 15, and it spans westward to encompass Sumter High School - can vote.
Elections for city council's Ward 2, 4 and 6, mayor and the school board's Seat 5, 6 and 7, all nonpartisan races, will be held as part of the general election on Nov. 3.
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