Editor’s note: News13 originally was unable to receive a statement from Myra Starnes and Randal Wallace on infrastructure and downtown revitalization. Their statements have been added to this web story.
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — As election day approaches on Nov. 7, it’s important for residents to know each candidate and their views on specific topics.
Eight people, including two incumbents, are campaigning and running to fill three seats on the Myrtle Beach City Council. The seat is a four-year term, and each candidate had different views when it came to infrastructure.
Incumbents Mike Chestnut and John Krajc have filed for re-election, while Phil Render is not seeking re-election.
The others running include Stuart Behar, Debbie Conner, Kenya Hennigan, Bill McClure, Myra Starnes and Randal Wallace.
News13 spoke with them about the rapid growth the city of Myrtle Beach has seen recently. Some were for the new projects and buildings, while others were not.
“My take is infrastructure is part of making sure that we can handle the building and stuff that’s coming,” Chestnut said. “But then also making sure we can continue to still provide the services that the residents need too.”
“There are a lot of issues that are not being considered by the city council that I think is important,” Behar said. “You can’t keep growing and growing and growing without looking at the infrastructure and how it’s being affected by the growth.”
“I think we’ve got to be very proactive in the way that we approach our ideas around planning and zoning specifically to ensure that we are keeping in mind what our area can handle,” Conner said.
“We need to stop it. Slow down. Let’s think. How is this going to affect the future?” Hennigan said. “Everybody’s looking for the now. What can I get out of it now? It’s not going to work. We have to think about the future, because the next crew that’s going to come in has to fix it.”
“What I would say is infrastructure investment and growth management. That actually could sometimes come before downtown revitalization and economic diversification because if we don’t have the infrastructure in place to bring these businesses here, support existing businesses and support the residents that are here, we won’t be where we need to be to make sure we’re the best city for the future,” Krajc said.
“What traditionally has happened, not just in Myrtle Beach, is that rapid development happens,” McClure said. “All of a sudden we just start approving community after, building after building, permit after permit, permit after permit, and we don’t think about what the impact is going to be.”
“I support efforts to extend our stormwater outfalls farther into the ocean. We need to work with Grand Strand Water and Sewer to upgrade water and sewer all over the city and not just new developments,” Starnes said. “The proposed reverse angle parking in the downtown should be looked at further as well as other alternate plans for parking in that area.”
“In the area of infrastructure, I think the city has over a number of years, going back to the early 1990s, if not before, always tried to plan ahead for the needs of the city. It is one of the reasons we have not seen the issue of flooding in the city limits that other jurisdictions have seen,” Wallace said. “I also think the time has come for the city and the region to come together to talk about an overall plan or vision for the region to control the growth of the area before it overwhelms us all.”
Each candidate had a different perspective when it came to downtown revitalization. Some believe revamping downtown will draw more people and businesses to the area, while others do not.
“I want to see downtown redevelopment continue and get completed,” Chestnut said. “Because I think that’s not only going to help downtown, I think it’s going to help our residents provide more green space for them to be able to entertain and come out and shop.”
“One of the problems is, I go to the city council meetings now. And I’ve never seen them turn down a developer for anything,” Behar said. “You know, we’ve got to sort of put a rein on developing in this city.”
“Seeing that we are a tourist-based economy here, much like the entire state of South Carolina, starting to diversify that economy is really important,” Conner said. “And that’s going to be happening in downtown.”
“We can’t build and make refresh downtown if we don’t take care of the problems that’re already downtown,” Hennigan said. “We have to get these issues under control for us to prosper and what we’re trying to develop.”
“I moved downtown, my primary residence in 2020 to homes that needed desperate rehab and our downtown still needs rehab,” Krajc said. “And we’re going to move forward in that pace and make sure that we can diversify the economy, starting with downtown and expanding out.”
“Nothing’s going to happen in downtown revitalization until we address the old pavilion area that is now vacant,” McClure said. “Now, the city does pay a fair amount of money to lease that from Burroughs and Chapin. But until we do that, we’re not really going to have downtown revitalization.”
“I do not believe the city should be in the position of creating master plans for the downtown area. I do believe the city should work with property owners to improve the area,” Starnes said. “However, the city acquiring large numbers of buildings in the downtown area then selling them off at a loss is a bad idea. The city should not be in the real estate investment business.”
“I agree with the arts and innovation district on the west side, because it can lead to drawing young people and potential residents into downtown. On the east side, the council has invested enormous amounts of money buying property without saying exactly what the plan is for the area,” Wallace said. “That has scared the other merchants and property owners in the area, creating concern for citizens. It’s all been done with no transparency for what the plan is, if there is one.”
Early voting began in South Carolina on Monday.
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Gracie is a multimedia journalist at News 13 and is from Cleveland, Ohio. Gracie joined the team in June 2023 after graduating from the University of Alabama in May. Follow Gracie on Facebook, Instagram and X, formerly Twitter, & read more of her work here.