3 to run in election for two Beaufort City Council seats; mayor unopposed

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3 to run in election for two Beaufort City Council seats; mayor unopposed

Published Wednesday, August 15, 2012   |  580 Words  |  

Three Beaufort men are competing for two seats on City Council and, barring a write-in campaign, the mayor will run unopposed.

Candidates for the Nov. 6 election had to file statements of intent and financial interest by noon Wednesday to be included on the ballot. Incumbent Billy Keyserling was the only person filing to run for mayor. Councilmen Mike McFee and George O'Kelley will compete with newcomer Pete Palmer for two seats in the nonpartisan race.

City Council has five members -- a mayor and four council members, all elected at-large.

The council candidates are:

  • McFee, a Realtor, first elected to the council in 2008. He also serves on the city's Redevelopment Commission. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, McFee has been a real estate broker since 1985, currently with HomeTown Realty.
  • He is a past chairman of the board of the Greater Beaufort Chamber of Commerce and past president of the Beaufort Realtors Association. He also has volunteered for United Way and the American Red Cross and is on the board of directors for Alzheimer's Family Services of Greater Beaufort.

    "I would like to further the projects under way, as far as getting the form-based code in place and continuing to create incentives that would create more business and more infill development," he said.

  • O'Kelley, an attorney, won a special election in July 2011 to replace Gary Fordham, who died in office. O'Kelley served on council in the 1970s but resigned to become a municipal judge. He served another term starting in 2004 and was acting mayor for several months in 2008 after Bill Rauch resigned. O'Kelley graduated from The Citadel and University of South Carolina Law School and retired from the Marine Corps as a lieutenant colonel. He is married to the former Yancey Heins and has three sons and six grandchildren.
  • He said he wants another term to work on issues such as Boundary Street project, keeping lanes from being narrowed on Ribaut Road and keeping "unneeded" roads from being built in neighborhoods.

    "I just feel like I should have another term to make sure we are headed in the right direction."

  • Pete Palmer, a retired spy.He earned his bachelor of arts and law degrees from University of Virginia and spent 28 years with the CIA. He later created and sold a business to help victims of ransom schemes and then another for forensic auditing.
  • He has been on the boards of both the Wardle Family YMCA and Historic Beaufort Foundation, which he chaired. He and his wife Susan have four children and three grandchildren. Palmer wants to improve city government transparency so residents can get involved before council members make decisions.

    "I think the process is a little opaque, a little hard even for the motivated person to know what's going on so they can participate in a timely fashion," he said.

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