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Race to the starting line: City of Camden

Four vie for two council seats, two for mayor

Posted: July 17, 2012 8:32 p.m.
Updated: July 18, 2012 5:00 a.m.

(The following correction ran in the Chronicle-Independent on July 25, 2012: "Camden City Council candidate Peggy Ogburn was misidentified as a former Departmenet of PublicWorks director. Mrs. Ogburn chaired the Clemson Extension Community Development Committee. As such she opened the city's first recycling center in 1990 along with those serving as the county's Clemson Extension agtent and former city public works director. The C-I apologies for any confusion." The online version now reflects an accurate record of Mrs. Ogburn's service.)

It’s official: only two people will vie for the title of mayor in Camden, incumbent Jeffrey Graham and challenger Tony Scully, while four people -- including incumbent Councilwoman Alfred Mae Drakeford -- compete for two available city council seats.

The second open council seat belongs to Councilman Pat Partin who recently announced he would not be seeking reelection. When the filing deadline closed at noon Monday, candidates included Drakeford, current Camden Planning Commission member Johnny Deal, former Kershaw County Humans Relations Commission member Peggy Ogburn and current Camden Historic Landmarks Commission Chair Laurie Parks.

Each turned in petition signatures needed in the hopes of being placed on the November ballot, said Kershaw County Voter Registration Director Rosalind Watson. Watson stressed, however, that Deal, Ogburn and Parks aren’t officially on the ballot yet.

“We’re in the process of validating the signatures now and then will send them to the Camden Municipal Election Commission,” she said. “The only one that’s completed is Drakeford because she turned hers in earlier. We just need to finish validating the rest of them.”

Watson said each candidate needed to produce 244 signatures to become official candidates. She also confirmed that Graham and Scully met the requirements to be on the ballot in November for the mayor’s seat.

Drakeford, Ogburn and Deal all officially announced their candidacies prior to Monday’s deadline. Parks has launched a Facebook page announcing her candidacy.

Drakeford has served on council since 2004, has served as mayor pro tem and represents the city on the Santee-Lynches Council of Governments’ board of directors. She is married to Ernest Drakeford Jr., has one daughter, and retired from E.I. DuPont and Company with more than 33 years of service. Drakeford was named Kershaw County Humanitarian of the Year in 2005.

In addition to serving on the county human relations commission, Ogburn is a past member of the Camden Archives and Museum Commission and represented the city on the county’s original emergency planning committee. She chaired the Clemson Extension Development Committee and worked with a former city public works director Clemson Extension agent to open the city's first recycline center in 1990. Ogburn is also a past president and current board member of the Kershaw County Historical Society. Ogburn is married to Fred Ogburn; they have one son.

Deal, a former vice president at First Palmetto Bank, is serving his second year on the Camden Planning Commission. He spent 16 years with the Camden Jaycees, serving as president in 1998, and has served in other leadership roles ranging from the United Way of Kershaw County to the Lake Wateree Association. Also in 1998, Deal organized and led the annexation of most of the Sunnyhill subdivision into the city of Camden. Deal is married and has two daughters.

Parks, born in Atlanta and who attended the University of Georgia, is a 1999 graduate of Palmetto Leadership and 2002 graduate of Leadership South Carolina. In addition to chairing the Camden Historic Landmarks Commission, she is the current chair of Junior Leadership Kershaw County, the past vice chair of the Kershaw County Human Relations Commission, past chair of the Foster Care Review Board for Kershaw and Richland Counties, and past co-chair of Palmetto Leadership Kershaw County from which she was received the Nettles Award in 2007. Parks has also served with the Girl Scouts of the Congaree, Kershaw County Community in Schools, Camden Kiwanis Club and Kershaw County Special Olympics. She is married to Westley Parks; they a daughter and son-in-law, stepdaughter and a son.

Graham was elected to the mayor’s office four years ago, in 2008, making him the youngest sitting mayor in South Carolina at the time. Born and raised in Camden, he is a graduate of Camden High School and graduated from Presbyterian College with a degree in Business Administration in 2004. Graham is currently vice-president of Graham Realty Inc.; a member and former vice president of tourism for the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce; a board member of the Rotary Club of Camden; and past chair of the Camden Polo Match for the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County. He is a past chairman of the Kershaw County Democratic Party. He and his wife, Sara, have two children.

Scully works with youth at the Continuous Learning Center and chair Let’s Move Cities and Towns for Camden and Kershaw County; he also co-founded Camden’s Mini-Olypmics. A native of Washington, D.C., he wrote for Broadway and off-Broadway as well as TV scripts. Scully recently edited and contributed to the book “The Voices of Camden” benefitting the Fine Arts Center. He is a graduate of Gonzaga High School in Washington, D.C.; Boston College; and the Yale School of Drama. Scully has served on the board of Camden’s Upton Trio and is a trustee of Historic Camden.

This year’s general election will be held Nov. 6. In addition to these candidates for Camden City Council, the city will pose a referendum question to voters: “Should the city of Camden continue with plans to construct a recreation facility and partner with a third party to administer the facility?”

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