After what seemed like a long campaign trail for many Elgin residents, Brad Hanley was elected mayor of Elgin with 142 votes, according to unofficial results Feb. 1. Larry Risvold received 64 votes.
“I’m relieved,” were the first words out of Hanley’s mouth after the announcement."I’m excited and looking forward to serving the town of Elgin. Other than that, I’m speechless.”
Melissa Emmons and Norman “Bubba” Ernst were elected to fill two open council seats, with 135 and 116 votes, respectively. Challenger Jerry Jeffers received 91 votes.
Elgin voters also passed a referendum allowing businesses within the town limits to sell alcohol on Sunday with a permit.
Now that it has passed, merchants and restaurant owners within Elgin’s city limits could begin selling alcohol on Sunday as soon as early March, according to officials. Elgin voters approved the referendum 122 votes to 81.
Judy Darby-Buchanan, Elgin town clerk, said the town of Elgin’s attorney has been gathering the proper paperwork to be submitted to the S.C. Department of Revenue (SCDOR) so that business owners can begin applying for Sunday alcohol permits.
Last November, voters countywide approved a similar ballot measure lifting the restriction on Sunday operating hours, known as “blue laws.” The passage of this referendum allowed business owners in Kershaw County to open before 1:30 on Sunday and sell a wider variety of products, excluding alcohol.
The city of Camden passed the same referendum regarding alcohol sales as Elgin in the November general election.
Dr. Chester Ferguson, president of the Elgin Business Association, said he hopes this will allow Elgin businesses to keep customers on Sunday.
“Generally speaking, this will only affect a few businesses within Elgin,” he said. “But it’s about keeping sales dollars within the town.”
Ferguson said the Elgin Business Association supported this referendum to keep Elgin from losing customers to Richland County.
“We really had to look at this as ‘what’s best for the town?’” he said. “Our campaign right now is ‘Think Elgin First’ and that is just to let people know to check out businesses in town before going somewhere else. This will help keep business in town.”
Tony Bonds, owner of the Elgin grocery store IGA, said while he is not personally in favor of selling alcohol on Sunday, he can’t deny that it makes business sense.
“We have lost 8 to 10 percent of sales on Sunday,” Bonds said. “Plus Sunday is the third busiest day of the week.”
Bonds said the percentage sales were not lost from alcohol sales, but groceries, because when people are buying beer or wine, they also purchase meat and other products.
The summer months, Bonds said, are generally when the most business is lost because of barbecues and NASCAR.
“From a personal standpoint, I don’t want to sell on Sunday, but we need to for business,” he said. “I hope to see growth now that we’re on a level playing field with Richland County.”