GEORGETOWN — Ronald McInnis, who won the Democratic primary special election for the Georgetown City Council seat Tuesday night, is a first-timer in the political world, but has a story to tell that led him to who he is today.
McInnis moved to Georgetown when he was a child, his parents relocating to the area to teach school.
He remained in the area for the bulk of his life, stead a 4-year period in the Air Force.
And a 13-year period in which he was incarcerated.
In 1989, McInnis was arrested in Charleston and charged with trafficking cocaine and was in prison until 2004.
While in prison, he dedicated himself to turning his life around, focused on returning home to serve his community. But it didn't come to him right away.
While in prison, older staff members and inmates positively poured into McInnis, showing him the potential he had outside of the prison walls to be a person who could impact others in a productive and good way.
“I was raised in a Christian home, but it wasn't until that point that I started to get really serious about studying God's word, and as God would have it there was a chaplain that was placed in my presence that mentored me his name was Jim Brown,” McInnis said.
“He pulled me under his wing, he gave me a lot of encouragement and a lot of encouraging words just to help me look at things differently, look at life differently and not play the blame game, but to be proactive and do things differently.”
When he was released, he moved back to Georgetown and began volunteering with youth and advocating for a shift in mindset for the city, something he still advocates for today and ran his campaign on. He believes in the value of every person, no matter who they are, and that the city must work together to solve its problems.
McInnis will face Republican nominee Jonathan Angner on April 13 in the general election for the seat that was previously held by Rudolph Bradley, who died in November 2020.
McInnis is now a pastor at Mount Olive AME Church in Myrtle Beach and a program coordinator with Helping Hands of Georgetown County, an organization that works to create sustainable futures through job training and youth empowerment to relieve generational and situational poverty, while meeting immediate needs of food insecurity, utility support and dental care, according to its website.
On Tuesday night, McInnis said he felt humbled that the community noticed his dedication to helping Georgetown enough to vote for him by a large enough margin to avoid a runoff election, and that he is usually not a fan of being in the spotlight.
“I’ve had it on me several times but I’m not a person that is comfortable with that, so I didn’t have a great idea that a lot of my work was being noticed and last night it came to me that somebody has been noticing what I’ve been doing in this community,” McInnis said.
Long-time friend of McInnis', Carl Anderson, said that McInnis' extensive experience in community outreach in Georgetown as well as his previous experience in working for a building company make him stand out as a candidate for city council.
"He's a humble person, he is willing to look into things before making a wrong decision, maybe," Anderson said.
Looking ahead at the general election in April, McInnis said he will continue to do what he has done the last few months: communicate with and listen to people and make sure people are registered to vote.
“It's very important that we keep people informed on our (voting) dates, that was an issue with our election (Tuesday),” McInnis said. “We want to get more people registered and involved in our local elections, they're very important.”
Voters can check registration information at scvotes.gov. Voters must be registered at least 30 days prior to any election in order to vote in that election.