ATLANTIC BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Atlantic Beach mayoral candidate John David is asking the South Carolina Supreme Court to intervene in the aftermath of the town’s hotly contested Nov. 7 election.
Unofficial results from election night showed Josephine Isom, a town council member and mayor pro tem, defeating David 62-49, and a Nov. 9 recount in which 18 challenged ballots were approved during a certification hearing swung the vote in favor of David, 65-64.
However, because of a series of controversial events since the election, including the disbanding of the town’s election commission, the results have yet to be certified.
“I filed suit with the South Carolina Supreme Court for an urgent matter of the highest public importance,” David said.
David’s petition asks the Supreme Court to void the town council’s Nov. 10 emergency meeting vote dissolving the election commission and to reinstate its members. It also asks the court to secure all of the ballots and materials from the Nov. 7. election.
Since the election, David’s petition said “several alarming events transpired that have undermined confidence in the integrity of this municipal election and serve as another example of the ‘disputes that inevitably accompany’ municipal elections in Atlantic Beach.”
One of those events came on Nov. 10 when the town’s election commission met to re-count and certify the results. At that meeting, current Mayor Jake Evans cited the need for a state-employed court reporter to transcribe the meeting.
While the meeting was in recess, the petition said that Evans, Isom and council member Jacqueline Gore “convened a hastily organized and largely clandestine ’emergency’ hearing of the Town Council” during which the election commission was dissolved. Gore, an incumbent, won re-election on Nov. 9.
“A mayor and two council members, that are in this said election, should not be able to stop the will of everyday hard working local citizens,” David said.
David’s petition argues that state law only allows such meetings when they are necessary to “meet public emergencies affecting life, health, safety or the property of the people” and that the meeting failed to meet those standards.
The petition also argues that officials ignored other public notice requirements needed for town council meetings and that the town did not have an attorney present when town officials met in executive session that led to the election commission being dissolved.
Town Manager Benjamin Quattlebaum and Gore declined to comment Wednesday. Evans told News13 he needed more information from his lawyer when asked what the next steps were.
News13 spoke with a state election commission official, who agreed that the next step for this situation is court — which is exactly what David did.
“I asked that the solicitor and the South Carolina attorney general read the Supreme Court filing where cited laws were broken,” David said. “I ask them to help protect our democracy and the people of Atlantic Beach’s right to vote and the right to have their votes counted.”
It’s not the first time that David has been involved in an election dispute in Atlantic Beach. In January, David defeated Michael Isom, Josephine Isom’s son, in a special election to fill a seat on town council that was vacated by the death of James DeWitt in October 2022.
However, the seat has remained empty after Michael Isom challenged the results of the election, arguing that David failed to meet residence requirements.
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Dennis Bright is a Digital Producer at News13. He joined the team in May 2021. Dennis is a West Virginia native and a graduate of Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Follow Dennis on, Facebook, X, formerly Twitter, and read more of his work here.
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Jackie LiBrizzi is a multimedia journalist at News13. Jackie is originally from Hamilton, New Jersey, and was raised in Piedmont, South Carolina. Jackie joined the News13 team in June 2023 after she graduated as a student-athlete from the University of South Carolina in May 2023. Follow Jackie on X, formerly Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, and read more of her work here.