LATTA, S.C. (WBTW) — A community meeting Sunday in Latta aimed to address the recent resignations of several town leaders and half of its police force, but at times it devolved into a yelling match between officials and residents.
Two council members and the town’s attorney and police chief have resigned over the last two weeks amid an ongoing controversy revolving around the town’s November mayoral election and other issues.
“Everything that has been done was done for the best of all Latta citizens,” Melinda Robinson, the town’s administrator said. “It was not done for a certain group.”
Moments after Robinson asked residents if they had any questions, the meeting heated up.
“If it was me that went on her property, well, she’s got a ring doorbell!” one resident said of his inability to file a grievance with the town before being met with jeers from the crowd.
Discussion at the meeting covered topics far beyond the recent resignations, with topics including restraining orders and a racial divide.
“It’s OK when certain folks get up and are just disrespectful to the council,” council member Lizzie Crawford said of people speaking out of turn.
Above all else, residents voiced concerns about allegations of “vote harvesting.”
“I did see forms where absentee ballots were turned in by the same person over and over and over again, and that’s concerning,” one resident said.
Another resident claimed a mentally disabled person was coerced into filling out an absentee ballot, but Norris Barr-Mack of the Latta Voter Registration Coalition said absentee voting in the town was handled legally.
“Anybody can deliver that ballot to the voter registration office in Dillon,” he said.
“I could care less about voter harvesting,” a resident said. “I do care about what’s going on in the town, and I think we should focus on the resignation of the police officers.”
According to the town council, officer Zane Bryant will take over as police chief, and the Dillon County Sheriff’s Office will step in to help out starting on Fiday.
When it comes to replacing the two council members who resigned, mayor pro tempore Marcus McGirt said progress has been made.
“We have to file the election to have the date set for 13 Tuesdays after their date of resignation,” he said. “That Tuesday would officially be Oct. 11.”
He said Dillon County is still waiting on paperwork before a new mayoral election can be planned, after the last one was contested due to the apparent victor not living in the town.
“Something needs to be done, and it needs to get started right now,” Acting Mayor Nancy Brigman said.