ATLANTIC BEACH, SC (WBTW) – In a stunning turn of events Friday, Atlantic Beach Town Council voted to disband the Atlantic Beach Election Commission, even as the town’s mayoral race is undecided.
Following an hours-long vote certification process on Thursday that did not result in a decision on who would be the town’s next mayor, the town’s election commission held another meeting at 10 a.m. Friday for a recount of approximately 130 votes.
After the meeting got underway, incumbent Mayor Jake Evans expressed a concern about why there was no state-employed court reporter present, while there had been one present on Thursday.
After adjourning to address the issue and then going into executive session, which is closed to the public and media, Election Commission Chairman Joe Montgomery said he personally didn’t think there needed to be a court reporter present. He said he believed they only needed a secretary present, which they had, but he wanted to make sure he was doing everything the “right way”.
A court reporter was then requested. However, the court reporter wasn’t available until 2 p.m. Friday so the morning meeting was adjourned and the plan was to resume the recount at 2 p.m.
However, shortly after the morning meeting ended, the Atlantic Beach Town Council suddenly announced there would be an emergency council meeting at 12:30 p.m. At that emergency meeting, town council voted to disband the election commission.
Among those on council are Jacqui Gore, who just won re-election as a result of vote certification on Thursday, and Josephine Isom, who’s in the still-undecided mayoral race.
News13’s Jackie LiBrizzi has been in Atlantic Beach covering the developments on Thursday and Friday. She spoke to Montgomery shortly after the election commission was disbanded. He says this isn’t fair to the citizens of Atlantic Beach.
“We were supposed to carry out the election today,” Montgomery told News13. “They shouldn’t have interfered at all. They appointed me to run the election. But they interfered with my operation, so they ultimately relieved me…”
News13 reached out to Atlantic Beach officials to ask about the legality of the town council’s emergency meeting and vote to disband the commission, and what’s next for the town.
“We don’t have all the answers to those questions,” current Mayor Jake Evans told News13. “But as you saw what took place…there is no election commission, so there is no meeting for the election commission to have here today at two o clock. Now we’ll have to follow up with information from our lawyer to move forward from this but as we speak here today, there is no election commission. It has just been dissolved.”
“We are the legal authority when it comes to getting rid of the commission,” Gore told News13. “We are the government here.”
News13 has also reached out to Horry County and state officials to ask about the emergency meeting and vote, and what’s next for Atlantic Beach. It’s not clear how or when the mayoral race will be decided.
Count on News13 for updates.