Lexington Co. Council race heats up in final days before election

By Jack Kuenzie - bio | email

IRMO, SC (WIS) - South Carolina votes in a few days, and the sparks are flying not just in national and state races. A contest for Lexington County Council is also producing some sharp differences, especially in the race for the council District 7 seat.

District 7 covers a large chunk of territory around Irmo, Seven Oaks and into neighborhoods like Whitehall and Challedon. There, we find two candidates with a 43-year age gap between them.

Brad Matthews has been going door to door with his pitch for a Lexington County Council seat. He says he's been to more than 3,000 homes trying to convince the people of council District 7 to give a 24-year-old political novice a chance at public service.

"I do own a business here," said Matthews. "I live here. I'm engaged and Lord willing, we're going to have a family. I'll be raising my family here in the next couple of years and I want to see this community get better."

Matthews is making his first bid for office as an independent petition candidate. He admits he's way short on experience compared to his opponent, former county councilman and county auditor Art Guerry.

Guerry's top issues include putting new emphasis on growth and infrastructure work in the district. "I see these problems and say you know, I know how to do it," said Guerry. "I've got the experience. I don't have to go through a learning curve and I could help my community. I've lived here for 40 years."

Matthews has focused on limiting public housing, crime and flooding problems. The race has generated bitter accusations, some targeting the 67-year-old Guerry in a mailing that ties him to allegations of sexual impropriety and harassment.

Guerry denies the claims and the county GOP chairman has called for an ethics investigation. Matthews says he had nothing to do with the flyer.

Republican Chairman Rich Bolen and Guerry have also accused Matthews of failing to file campaign disclosure and spending information. This is an unusually tough race for a council seat.

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