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Wise elected KCC chairman

Posted: November 4, 2010 5:00 p.m.
Updated: November 5, 2010 5:00 a.m.
Martha Bruce/C-I

Gene Wise (right) checks the numbers with Bill Hubert, who keeps an eye on election results on his computer Tuesday night. With 13,857 votes, Wise defeated his challenger, Bobby Gary's 7,729 for chairmanship of Kershaw County Council.

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For the first time in more than 20 years, Kershaw County Council will have a new chairman.

Republican Gene Wise, general manager of the Target Distribution Center in Lugoff, won council’s top spot convincingly Tuesday, defeating Democratic challenger Bobby Gary by a margin of 29 percent.

“I’m just pleased there were voters out there who supported the things I stood for,” Wise said Wednesday. “It’s been a long six months of campaigning. I am glad it’s over.”

Priority No. 1 will be marketing Kershaw County for job creation, Wise said.

“That’s something I’ve already spoken with (Kershaw County Economic Development Director) Nelson Lindsay about -- bringing good jobs here,” said Wise.

In addition to job creation, Wise will focus on streamlining county operations. He said he’s going to take a “business” approach to his role, not a “political” one.

As recently as a couple of years ago, the Michigan native had never thought of running for political office.

“I never had any intention to run for an office like this. A group of citizens that was familiar with how I operate came to me,” Wise said. “They felt like I had the ability to get things done here the right way.”

Wise, who holds an MBA, has made countless connections in his decade in Kershaw County. He’s served on the boards of both the state and Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce, the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County, the United Way of Kershaw County, the Kershaw County Public Schools Foundation and the county’s accommodations tax committee.

He was named the 2005 business person of the year by the Camden Rotary Club, and the 2006-2007 and 2008-2009 Business Person of the Year by the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce.  

Wise said he’s in a position with Target that allows him to set his own hours, so he’s not concerned with finding enough time to meet his duties on council.

He thanked his wife of 43 years, Joanne, whom he said supported his decision to run and was equally excited at his election.

The couple moved to Lake Wateree from Minneapolis, Minn., where Wise worked in another position for Target. They are members of the Lake Wateree Homeowners Association.

Wise said he spoke with Gary Tuesday, thanking him for running a “high integrity” campaign.


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