Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify David’s license plate was issued on Feb. 1. We apologize for the error.

ATLANTIC BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A residency dispute headlined the certification of Tuesday’s special election runoff in Atlantic Beach.

The council seat had been vacant since the fall when the late James DeWitt was allegedly killed by his son.

The nearly hour-long certification at times turned into a spectacle with some in the audience recording on their phones.

The tension was sparked by a challenge of three votes, one of which belonged to John David, who was declared the winner of the runoff.

Atlantic Beach Councilwoman Josephine Isom claimed that while David owns property within the town limits, he didn’t fulfill the residency requirement to run or even vote. Isom’s son, Michael, was in the race and finished in second.

“You can’t live here two to three days and go away six months,” Josephine Isom said. “Now you can’t do that.”

The election commission disagreed with Isom and accepted David’s provisional ballot.

“I know he’s been here for 30 days and the law requires that if you were here for 30 days, you can vote and you can run,” said Joe Montgomery, chairman of the Atlantic Beach Election Commission.

County land records confirm David bought property near the oceanfront in 2020 and built an 8-bedroom rental that sleeps 23 people.

“There’s nothing against renting your house, which I do rent, and I will rent,” David said. “I’m a legal resident here. I vote here. All my documents are here. I pay bills here. I pay taxes here.”

Just minutes after an interview with News13, David stepped into his truck with a Maryland license plate. David said he’s still transitioning to the area.

David’s South Carolina license plate was issued Feb. 1. County tax records also show David paid his vehicle property tax on Feb. 1. David said he received his driver’s license in November.

“This is very concerning,” said Paul Curry, a former resident of Atlantic Beach. He questioned the validity of the entire election, citing state code that requires the special election to be held 13 Tuesdays after the vacancy occurs.

DeWitt died on Oct. 9, and the initial special election was Jan. 17 — 15 Tuesdays after the vacancy.

“I knew about the 13,” Montgomery said. “I read that. We were late. I had extenuating circumstances, so I wasn’t in town to get the ball rolling.”

David’s term expires in 2025. There has been no official word on when he’ll be sworn in.

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Manny Martinez is the weekend evening anchor and a reporter at News13. Manny is from Chicago. He graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in broadcast journalism. Follow Manny on Twitter and read more of his work here.