Record vote puts Goodwin in mayor's seat

Tim Goodwin gets a hug from his wife, Charlotte, after it was announced that he was the winner in the Folly Beach mayoral election Tuesday.

FOLLY BEACH -- A record voter turnout on Tuesday produced what for many observers was a surprising result: an outright winner of the three-way race for mayor.

City Councilman Tim Goodwin won the mayor's seat, handily defeating fellow Councilman Eddie Ellis and incumbent Mayor Carl Beckmann Jr. Several people, including the mayoral candidates, had said they expected a runoff.

There will be a runoff in the council race between Susan Breslin and incumbent Councilwoman Laura Beck. Both Beck and Breslin earned about 16 percent of Tuesday's votes. Newcomers Paul Hume, with 26 percent, and Pennell Clamp, with 18 percent, won council seats, according to unofficial returns. Marilyn Bowers, executive director of the Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration, said results will be certified Thursday.

More than 1,250 voters -- reported by city officials to be a record for municipal-only balloting at Folly -- turned out for the election. The city has about 2,011 registered voters, Folly Election Commission Chairman Lavern James said.

Trailing Tuesday in the council race were D.J. Rich, 14 percent, Joel Flores, 6 percent, and Robert Hatcher, 3 percent.

Goodwin, who netted 56 percent of the votes cast in the mayor's race, said his leadership abilities and communicative skills carried him to victory.

Still, he said, he expected to still be campaigning. "I figured it would probably end in a runoff. This is pretty unprecedented, and totally a surprise too," Goodwin said.

He said he was looking forward to leading the new council, which will have at least two newcomers -- and possibly four, depending on results of the April 20 runoff and a special election that will be needed to fill Goodwin's council seat after he is sworn in as mayor next month.

Beckmann, who four years ago won the mayor's office with 60 percent of the votes cast in a runoff, earned just 16 percent on Tuesday. He said he won't re-enter the political arena.

"I can go back and be retired," said Beckmann, who was new to the island's political scene and retired from the Charleston Commissioners of Public Works and the Army Reserve, when he entered the mayor's race in 2006.

Beckmann said he's not sure why he lost. "Evidently the people think Tim can do a better job, so let him go at it."

Ellis received 27 percent of the vote. He said he will work with the new mayor but will keep his focus on "the best interests of Folly Beach. We'll see how it works out," he said.

Reach Edward C. Fennell at efennell@postandcourier.com or 937-5560.