Incumbent Mayor soundly defeated by retired Human Relations Director
In a stunning upset Paul Shewmaker handily defeated Mayor Janice Curtis by a total of 1006 to 752.
The totals reflected a citizenry that apparently reacted to his campaign for more transparency and more civility in government. Mayor Curtis’ term in office was embroiled in conflict from the very beginning. She refused to sign the already approved Police Department check to apply for national certification. The item was budgeted, and all paperwork was completed to make the application and finish up the process. She and the Mayor Pro-Tem refused to sign the check. Then during her tenure, there were several run-ins with citizens and finally an exchange with city Councilmember Sylvia Lockaby resulting in her ejection from the Council meeting. It was the first time a sitting Mayor in Simpsonville had removed a councilmember from a meeting. Conflicts with a councilmember and a department head led to lawsuits, one of which was dismissed and the other is nearing a court date.
Putting those issues aside, the city prospered. During the campaign Shewmaker consistently complemented the work that had been done by the Council, Mayor, and City Administrator and was not challenging what was done as much as how it was done. Doing the right thing was a theme that he repeated over and over.
Shewmaker was making his first run at political office after spending a career in the HR field and volunteering with local Boy Scout troops. The campaign featured two debates and several community meetings. Also, on the ballot were three councilmembers from Wards 1, 3 and 5 who were running unopposed. Matthew Gooch, Jenn Hulehan and Ken Cummings will be sworn in with Shewmaker at January 14th City Council meeting.
The vote totals were close to the average in Simpsonville where traditionally less than 10% usually go to the polls. Shewmaker added, “The vote totals were a disappointment, as well as the lack of competition among the other City Council members. Contested races tend to sharpen the Council’s focus toward its citizens.”
The next municipal election will be held in November 2021 where Stephanie Kelley, Lou Hutchings and Sherry Roches’ seats will be on the ballot. ♦