SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The town of Surfside Beach held a forum for mayoral and town council candidates on Thursday night.

Three candidates are running for mayor to replace incumbent Bob Hellyer. The candidates were asked nine questions and were not able to prepare their answers.

The forum, which happened at the Holiday Inn Resort Oceanfront, had residents flooding the room, ready to hear from their town leaders.

Mayoral candidate Cindy Keating served four years on town council and two years as the current mayor pro temp. Rob Krouse served on the pier committee as the former chairman before it was suspended by town council in August.

David Pellegrino served on town council from 2014-2021. He also ran for mayor in 2019.

News13 spoke with each candidate before Thursday’s forum, asking for their thoughts on the new Surfside Beach pier.

“So, we depended on an inexperienced town administrator to lead a project that he quite didn’t have the time or expertise to do,” Keating said.

“One thing that was missed was a project manager,” Krouse said. “You can’t take a construction project of that size and expect to handle it with the town council and administrator.”

“There were many design changes that were unnecessary, many change orders that were approved, and every time a design change and change order was approved, it added on time, it added on money,” Pellegrino said.

The mayoral candidates also spoke about ongoing turnover within the town’s government. Town Administrator Gerald Vincent started in May to take over for former fire chief Rob Clemons, who was the interim town administrator for six months.

“I would definitely encourage our administrator to add that leadership and that focus to setting objectives and setting expectations,” Keating said.

“It really comes down to respect,” Krouse said. “You hear people out, listen to them, you’re not going to do everything they want to do.”

“My eight years on council, I’ve proven I don’t get involved with the day-to-day operations and work through the administrator and if we have a problem with the administrator, we need to correct the expectations with him,” Pellegrino said.

Election day is Nov. 7.

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Adrianna Lawrence is a multimedia journalist at News13. Adrianna is originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and joined the News13 team in June 2023 after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in May 2023. Keep up with Adrianna on Instagram, Facebook, and X, formerly Twitter. You can also read more of her work, here.