HORRY COUNTY — Johnny Vaught remembers a time when U.S. 501 was a single road, and Ocean Boulevard was empty of tourists after Labor Day.
"The whole county has grown like that. And I mean, I could go on as to how much it's changed. There was nothing out of this way, nothing out this way, whatsoever," Vaught said of the area around his district.
The Horry County Councilmember represents District 8, which encompasses most of Horry County from U.S. 501 to S.C. 544. District 8 backs up until it reaches the Waccamaw River, and includes a portion of Carolina Forest and Forestbrook.
"Every district has its own differing problems, and yet we have to find consensus when we make a county-wide decision. It takes all of those different district's concerns into account," Vaught said. "And that's the job on council to build consensus and find out what are common problems — what do all 12 of us have in common."
Vaught is working toward the widening of Forestbrook Road and U.S. 501 from S.C 544 to S.C. Hwy 31. Both these projects are a part of the Ride III program and are currently in the design phase.
County government is a service industry, Vaught said. When somebody in his district calls him with a problem and isn't able to respond, he'll get a response.
"I'm basically the people's representative to government, and that's the way I see it," Vaught said. "And that's why I always answer my phone, and I always answer my emails, and texts, because people look to me to be their voice. And so I consider it a very sacred trust that these people trust in me to take care of things."
While county council does not have a term limit for their positions, councilmembers have to go through the election process every four years. Vaught's term expires on Dec. 31, 2022.
Before Vaught's election in 2014, he said he attended every council meeting from the beginning of his campaign.
"I did not miss a council meeting or a committee meeting during that whole time I was running because I had retired," Vaught said. "So I had the time, so I went to all of those meetings, and I went for the reason of learning what went on on council."
Vaught said he enjoys shooting guns in his free time, and he used to be a competitive race car driver.
Before joining council, Vaught taught at Horry-Georgetown Technical College for 28 years. He was the department head for the Electronics Engineering Technology and actually started the program.
But he said, nowadays, he spends most of his time answering constituents' phone calls.
"This is my real job — I don't get paid much for it — but it's my real job," Vaught said.