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Phillip Pounds Is Isle Of Palm’s New Mayor

By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News

“We just stayed true to our message. That’s what resonated.” – IOP Mayor-elect Phillip Pounds

Phillip Pounds barely escaped the necessity for a runoff election and will serve as the next mayor of Isle of Palms.

The Charleston County Board of Elections & Voter Registration reviewed 17 provisional ballots Nov. 4 – two days after an election that also produced four new Council members – and rejected eight of the ballots due to “address issues,” according to Board Executive Director Isaac Cramer. 

Of the nine provisional ballots, five were votes for Pounds and four favored Ryan Buckhannon, who was first elected in 1999 and has served on the IOP Council ever since, except in 2016 and 2017. The final official tally was 1,011 for Pounds, 933 for Buckhannon and 68 for Joshua Hooser, with seven write-in votes. To avoid a runoff, Pounds, who will become the mayor during the first week of January, needed 50% of the votes cast plus one, or 1,010.5 votes.

Cramer said the eight provisional ballots that were rejected will never be opened, so no one, except those who filled out the ballots, will know who the votes were for. The ballots will be stored for six months and then destroyed.

One of the provisional ballots, that of Elliott Summey, executive director and CEO of Charleston International Airport and former chairman of the Charleston County Council, was rejected by the Board because he apparently wasn’t on the Isle of Palms voter rolls. Summey said he changed the address on his driver’s license and his voter registration card from Mount Pleasant to Isle of Palms at the East Cooper branch of the Department of Motor Vehicles in March of this year and that he now lives on Waterway Boulevard in IOP.

“Technology is a wonderful thing except when it doesn’t work,” he commented, pointing out that he bought the house on Waterway around three years ago.

The four new Council members chosen by IOP voters include Jan Anderson with 1,269 votes; Katie Miars, 1,203; John Bogosian, 1,145; and Blair Hahn, 1,006. Others in the race were Andrew Vega, 749; Nadine Deif, 736; Bryan Stevens, 470; Alex Skatell, who withdrew from the race before the Nov. 2 election, 124; and Edwin Boyle, 92. There were a total of 62 write-in votes.

“We just stayed true to our message. That’s what resonated,” said Pounds, who was elected to the IOP Council in November 2019 and is expected to vacate his seat when he is sworn in as mayor on Jan. 4, 2022. 

He added that building camaraderie with the four new Council members is at the top of his list of things to do when he takes office.

“I’ll spend some time with them defining what success will look like. That’s the first order of business when January rolls around,” he said.

Pounds went on to cite traffic flow and parking among his “multiple hot priorities.” He said he would be working with the town of Mount Pleasant, the Department of Transportation and other partners to help alleviate traffic issues on the island.

Buckhannon, who said he is “finished” with politics and won’t be running for Pounds’ unexpired Council seat, thanked his family and his supporters on his Facebook page: “This election reminded us that every voter matters, and this election came down to one vote that changed the direction of this campaign. While, unfortunately, we did not achieve the victory we had hoped for, we can all be proud of the fact that our desire to improve traffic on the island was heard; that our desire to enhance recreation for all residents on the island – regardless of age – was heard; that our desire to stop the nonsensical regulations on our local job-creating businesses was heard.”

Cramer pointed out that 43.34% of IOP’s registered voters – 2,019 out of 4,553 – turned out Tuesday, by far the highest percentage in the area.

“It was a pretty significant turnout. Most were less than 20% across Charleston County,” he said.

He added that if Pounds resigns from his Council seat Jan. 4, the special election to fill that position will be held April 5, by state law on the 13th Tuesday after the seat is vacated.

According to the official results, Buckhannon was victorious in Precinct 1A, at Town Hall, 256 to 204, and in Precinct 1B, at the Rec Center, 436 to 280. However, Pounds picked up 525 votes to Buckhannon’s 238 in Precinct 1C, also at the Rec Center. Cramer said five of the provisional ballots that were accepted were “failsafe” ballots submitted by IOP residents who moved from one location on the island to another but showed up to vote at their old rather than their new voting location.

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