Many Charleston County courthouse candidates cruise to new terms without opposition, but that’s far from the case with the auditor’s post this year.
Incumbent Peggy Moseley had made news for her office’s role in delaying recent tax bills, for a controversial tax break, later rescinded, on her Johns Island home, even on her use of a county car to drive to GOP offices and file for re-election.
The barrage led Moseley to tell County Republican Chair Lin Bennett she would leave the race — a decision Moseley rescinded before filing ended on March 30.
But to win a sixth, four-year term, Moseley first must defeat two Republican opponents: former School Board member David Engelman and former Mount Pleasant Town Councilman Paul Gawrych.
The GOP winner will face Democrat Peter Tecklenburg and possibly a petition candidate this fall.
The auditor is a full-time position that pays about $91,000 a year. Duties include supervising a staff of about 30 people who set property tax rates with input from local government, print tax bills and oversee other aspects of the local property tax system.
Engelman said he retired from the SPAWAR last year and is now able to seek a partisan office. He said his lengthy work in project management, including work with the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission has given him experience dealing with large numbers of people — and dollars.
“I’m a good manager,” he said. “I think I could get along with County Council and work well with the RMC, treasurer and (the county’s office for) delinquent taxes. I know I could.”
Gawrych recently stepped down after serving a dozen years on Mount Pleasant Town Council, including service under three separate mayors and two years as the town’s mayor pro tem.
“I’m qualified for this because of my commitment to public service. I own a business and have for eight years,” he said. “I’ve come to realize my strengths are to make people believe in what they’re doing. ... I am learning more and more I have the ability to reach out across all different facets and work with people.”
Moseley said she last had opposition in 2000, but this time, she has more opponents than any other incumbent on the ballot in the county.
Asked why she thought so many were seeking her job, she said, “I think because of negative media, you can understand that somebody might have thought you were vulnerable.
“Sometimes, it might not be anything more than a couple of good old boys who were bothered by someone running a successful office... It could be something as simple as that.”
If re-elected, Moseley said she would continue to try to offer good customer service, motivate her employees and work hard.
“We certainly hope we can get this Manitron (property tax) system to work,” she added. “You know the other counties are having problems with it, too.”
It looked as if there was going to be a Democratic primary in the auditor’s race, but Melva Zinaich was among about 200 candidates struck from the ballot last week because of a S.C. Supreme Court ruling. The ruling meant Democrat Peter Tecklenburg, a former transit planner, will have no June 12 opponent.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.