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District 7 Beaufort County Council candidate Cynthia Bensch stood in the front door of a house in Eagle's Pointe and passed out candy to trick-or-treaters Wednesday.
A night earlier, at a candidates forum, she said she and her husband, Gary, do not live at that address, but are renting the house so her husband can operate his business out of the garage.
"We built a home at 29 Martingale West (in Rose Hill). That is my home," Bensch, a Republican, said Tuesday at a forum in which she faced off with Dan Duryea, her opponent in Tuesday's election.
The Rose Hill home is in District 7; the Eagle's Pointe home is not.
County Council members must live in the district they represent, according to Scott Marshall, executive director of Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections. State election law requires a candidate to meet "the qualifications for the office sought" by the time of the general election.
Bensch has said several times that she lives in a Rose Hill home she and her husband built and own. Her most recent campaign filing with the S.C. Ethics Commission lists her residence as the Martingale West address.
However, county property records indicate the home there is owned by Anthony Wayne Bensch and Allyson Graves, the Benschs' son and daughter-in-law. A woman who answered the door at the Rose Hill address Wednesday afternoon indicated Cynthia Bensch lived there but was not home at the time.
Attempts Thursday to reach Cynthia Bensch for comment were unsuccessful, but her husband said she moved into her son's home on Martingale several months ago after the couple sold another home in Rose Hill, on 1 Crabtree Lane. They intend to build a home in Hampton Hall, which also is in District 7, but have not yet done so, Gary Bensch said.
County property records indicate that the home on Crabtree Lane was sold May 18 by Properties of the Lowcountry LLC.
During a telephone interview Wednesday, after she was seen handing out Halloween candy, Bensch indicated she is spending time at both the Eagle's Pointe and Martindale addresses because her election materials are stored at the Eagle's Pointe home and the campaign "is my life right now."
Gary Bensch said he is renting that house -- his wife's name is not on the lease -- after relocating his Bensch Mark Services business from a spot on S.C. 170 in Okatie this past July. He said he relocated there, instead of Rose Hill, because Eagle's Pointe is not a gated community and thus grants employees easier access to tools he stores in the garage.
Beaufort County has no record of an active business license at the Eagle's Pointe address or under the Benschs' last name, an employee said this week.
Gary Bensch said Bensch Mark Services does mostly home-repair and carpentry contracting work off premises and doesn't need a business license.
Attempts Thursday to reach Duryea for comment were unsuccessful.
The District 7 seat, which was redrawn after the 2010 Census, includes the Bluffton-Okatie area south of U.S. 278, west of S.C. 170 and north of S.C. 46. Rose Hill, Hampton Hall, Hampton Lake and most of the Buckwalter area are within its boundaries.