Swansea has an interim leader, but town council faces questions on what’s next
SWANSEA, S.C. (WIS) - On Tuesday, Swansea residents woke up with a new (acting) mayor.
Governor Henry McMaster suspended Mayor Jerald Sanders after a Lexington County grand jury indicted him on charges of embezzlement of public funds under $10,000 and misconduct in office.
The Swansea Police Department report on the incident shows Councilwoman Doris Simmons requested an investigation in May 2020 and alleged Sanders misappropriated $4,502.96. She alleged he moved the taxpayer funds to his non-profit without council approval.
“Maybe not intentionally, to begin with, but I think he brought it on himself. I can’t change that, right or wrong,” she said.
Sanders’ attorney Alex Postic sent WIS statement reading:
“Mayor Sanders categorically denies any criminal activity. We are disappointed in the indictment against this honest and well-respected mayor, and we look forward to continuing to represent him through this matter. I am confident that once the entire case is presented, Mayor Sanders’s name will be cleared.
I would add that along with being honest and well respected, Mayor Sanders is a very nice and well-intentioned person. We are looking forward to clearing his name, and we are hopeful that the Governor will not remove/suspend him from his position while this matter is pending.”
The governor named the mayor pro-tempore to take the reins as mayor, which is Councilman Woodrow Davis.
WIS spoke to Davis on Tuesday in his home.
“Couldn’t believe it, because I didn’t know anything about what was going on down there. I just do what I was supposed to do and come on home,” he said.
Davis said he has been struggling with health issues gave a two-to-three-month timeline before he retires from public service. WIS asked if he will take action as the town’s mayor in the aftermath of the indictments.
“No, no. There is (sic) no use of me sticking my neck out there to get it chopped off,” he said.
Simmons said she is looking for an emergency meeting to address financial transparency with the town’s finances.
“If Councilman Davis is not able to function as the acting mayor, then we may need to look at things differently and maybe announce another person in the council as the Mayor pro-tem, or acting mayor, to proceed and keep things going,” she said. “At this moment we can’t make any decisions or do anything because we need to have that meeting of the council members to know what we need to do going forward.”
Simmons said the council will have a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, July 19.
Davis or any future mayor pro-tem will remain mayor until Sanders’ case ends in an acquittal or conviction, or if a successor is elected or appointed.
Swansea’s general election for mayor is scheduled for Nov. 2.
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