GEORGETOWN COUNTY — In its first meeting since January 2019, the Georgetown County Legislative Delegation, which typically meets annually, met at the Howard Center April 5 to discuss appointments to county volunteer boards that oversee elections, airports, recreational agencies and other services.
The meeting originally was set to happen March 29 at Chairman Senator Stephen Goldfinch's law office in Pawleys Island, but out of an abundance of caution over a threatened ethics complaint by the state Democratic party chair Trav Robertson, Goldfinch rescheduled the meeting for the following Monday.
"Senator Goldfinch’s use of his private law firm to conduct county and state business provides an opportunity to showcase his private law firm to the public," Robertson said in a press release that threatened the ethics complaint.
Goldfinch cited members of the delegation not feeling comfortable meeting in person due to COVID-19 as the reason for such a gap in between meetings, as well as the loss of its secretary of 30 years. The delegation had to hire a new secretary and build a system from scratch, he said, causing the inconsistent meetings.
There is no law designating how often county legislative delegations should meet, though Goldfinch confirmed it was practice for Georgetown County's to meet once a year.
Because the meeting location was moved, there was no longer an ethics complaint to file, but several residents before the meeting April 5, including Georgetown's NAACP chapter president, Marvin Neal, said they were upset over the previous location of the meeting and that this meeting was the first one in more than two years.
Neal also addressed topics such as a hate crime law, open carry laws, women's rights to an abortion and teacher wages, taking an ideologically left-leaning stance on all and urging the delegation to act.
"The confederate mindset still exists in the county we live in right now, its time to stop talking about moving forward and its time to demonstrate sound leadership," Neal said.
Though resident and former Republican South Carolina Senate nominee, David Ellison, outwardly disagreed with Neal's ideological points, he agreed that he was upset by the previous proposed location of the meeting.
"I was troubled by the way that the meeting wasn't intended to be held in a public forum," said Ellison, who lost to Senator Ronnie Sabb in November 2020.
Among the appointments was James Sanderson to the county board of voter registration and elections, which Goldfinch abstained from the vote on. Goldfinch said while he respects not interfering with appointments in districts that aren't his, he believes Sanderson's union involvement and outward Democratic ideologies make him unfit for the board.
"If we go down this path of partisanship on the election commission, I will personally have to respond with somebody who leans Republican, and I don't want to have to do that," Goldfinch said to Representative Carl Anderson, who still voted to appoint Sanderson to a vacant position on the board along with Sabb.
To finish off the meeting, the delegation assigned Anderson as its new chairman. The delegation switches chairman every two years and takes turns on party. Since Goldfinch is a Republican, a Democrat needed to be chairman next. Though it was Sabb's turn to be chairman, he declined, pushing it onto Anderson, who was chairman before Goldfinch.
Anderson said as the next chairman he hopes to ensure the delegation meets quarterly.