Sumter city council members prepare for runoff election in race for mayor

Published: Nov. 10, 2020 at 8:19 AM EST
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SUMTER, S.C. (WIS) - Tuesday, November 17 two candidates for Sumter mayor will once again be on the ballot for a runoff election. This time, instead of six candidates like on Election Day, there will be just two, current Sumter city councilmen Calvin Hastie and David Merchant.

This, after Mayor Joe McElveen, who’s been the mayor of Sumter for the last 20 years, announced he would not be seeking re-election.

Hastie has been on city council for 10 years. He tells WIS-TV that he was born in Sumter, a product of Sumter public schools, a South Carolina State University graduate and a retired military member.

Merchant has been a part of Sumter City Council for eight years. He was born in Columbia, is a Clemson University graduate and a small business owner.

Both describe the work they’ve done for the citizens of Sumter, so far, as council members.

Councilmember Hastie said, “I started a program called Dream Team because so many youth were out of school. We started helping young people get jobs and we placed over 50 young people into jobs. I started a farmers market because I noticed that, in Sumter, there was not even a grocery store in my area.”

Councilmember Merchant talked about his work on, “Improved parks and streets paved and new way-finding signs and just ways to make Sumter nicer, more appealing to attract more economic development opportunities. So, we’ve been working visibly on that, just trying to recruit new business, just to improve the quality of life and bring jobs to Sumter.”

Now, both council members say they’re ready to transition to the role of Sumter mayor.

“I’m uniquely qualified with my business and eight years on council. In business, we’ve met people from all over the country and world and had to work through difficult situations with that and same with council – how the budget works, how things can and cannot do. That gives me some experience that others may not have to be able to take both experiences and use them to move Sumter forward,” said Councilmember Merchant.

Councilman Hastie said “When you look back at my career, I am the best qualified person for the job. My platform is public health and safety – number one – affordable housing, economic development and then our youth. We must do something about our youth.”

As for races that were not too close to call, county-level elections were certified last week. Tuesday, November 10, 2020, the State Election Commission will meet to certify all state-level election results.

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