The Sumter Item to host mayoral debate Oct. 1


Those wishing for the ballots on Nov. 3 to determine he or she will become the City of Sumter's next political leader will take the stage next month for a candidates' debate.

The Sumter Item is set to host a mayoral debate on Thursday, Oct. 1, at 6 p.m. It will be held at the Sumter Opera House, but because of COVID-19, it is not open for the public to attend in person. Watch the debate in real-time on Facebook Live or watch anytime after online at or

All six candidates - Sabrina Belcher, Debbie Bowen, Foxy Rae Campbell, Calvin Hastie, David Merchant and Archie Parnell - have confirmed their attendance.

Mayor Joe McElveen announced at the beginning of 2020 he would not seek reelection after 20 years. The six Sumterites vying to follow in his footsteps include two city councilmen, two real estate agents, an attorney and a home care provider. They are three men and three women; three are Black, and three are white.

The City of Sumter operates as a council-manager form of government, which means the municipality employs a city manager to act as chief administrator of council's policies with a goal of separating the policymaking function from the administrative function. Sumter was the first municipality in the United States to operate under this form of government.

In a council-manager arrangement, the mayor acts as a member of council. Traditionally, the mayor presides at council meetings, is the one who calls special meetings and designates a municipal judge in certain cases.

All registered voters who live in Sumter's city limits can vote for mayor. The race is nonpartisan.

Submit questions in advance by emailing