Mike Perkis is the only registered candidate for mayor in the May 7 Sullivan's Island election, but that doesn't mean he'll be getting all the votes.
Some residents plan to stick with current mayor Carl Smith, even though Smith told the Moultrie News in early February that he didn't intend to seek a third term. “Though I have no doubt that I could win a third term, there are many reasons for my decision not to run again, and I will make them known in the future,” Smith said at the time in a statement to the Moultrie News.
Anyone can still be written in on the ballot, though, according to an official with the Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration. The Sullivan's Island Municipal Election Commission also confirmed that Monday morning during a special meeting, according to town clerk Ellen Miller.
“The motion was simple...they are going to count all cast votes, write-in votes and absentee votes for the municipal election for Sullivan's Island on May 7,” Miller said in a statement to the Moultrie News.
So, the pursuit for mayor appears to be between Perkis and Smith, current mayor pro tem and mayor, respectively.
“I understand that there are many on Sullivan's Island who plan to write my name in for mayor,” Smith said. “I never have and never will deny anyone the right to vote under any circumstances.
“I have always served the interest of the residents and voters of the island, and if called upon to continue, I will do so.”
Whether there is a write-in option or not had been a topic of confusion in the area. Because Perkis was the only person to file for his intent for the mayor position and is running unopposed, Section 7-13-190 of state code notes that the mayoral race could have been omitted from the ballot in a cost-saving measure to the town.
But, because there is another race of four candidates for three opening town council seats, ballots have to be made anyway. Therefore, costs would not be avoided and the town's election commission decided to put the mayoral race on the ballot with the council seats. Town administrator Andy Benke called it a measure of transparency.
If the state code was enforced of not including the unopposed race, Perkis would be automatically declared the winner. But, since the commission decided to go ahead with putting all names on the ballot, the write-in options will also extend to mayor.
Patrick Lee, deputy director with the Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration, wrote in an email to a Sullivan's Island resident – which was forwarded to the Moultrie News – that “the SIMEC decided to keep the office on the ballot, and it is accompanied by a write-in option.”
Lee also emphasized that while the BEVR office prepares ballot, equipment and voter registration list, the “authority to conduct this election is the Sullivan's Island Municipal Election Commission.”
Lee referred to the state code for further clarification. “According to Section 7-13-190, the office of mayor could have been ommitted from the ballot due to only candidate having filed and no one declaring to the SIMEC their intentions of running a write-in campaign.”
A link to a sample ballot was sent to the resident, which included write-in options for the council seats and mayor. Five candidates originally filed and were accepted for candidacy for town council seats, but Sarah Church decided to pull out of the race, according to Benke. She did not five a reason for withdrawing, he added.
Stay with the Moultrie News for continued election coverage.