12 On Your Side: Understand 'confusing' referendum, elections on Aiken Co. ballot

News 12 at First at Five / Friday, Nov. 2, 2012

AIKEN, S.C. -- Aiken County voting are faced with a few key elections and a referendum that could be confusing to some voters. News 12 is breaking them down.

Aiken County Referendum

The referendum asks, "Should the form of Aiken County's government be changed from that of a Council/Administrator form of government ... to that of a Council/Manager form of government?"

That's the question facing Aiken County voters.

"I could see that being confusing because, you know, a no vote might actually be yes and yes vote might actually be no," said voter Greg Smith, who decided to cast his absentee ballot at the Registration and Elections office Friday afternoon.

In plain speak, here's what the referendum means. A vote of "yes" would make county treasurers and auditors appointed, not elected. A vote of "no" would keep the form of government as it is.

"You know, Aiken County's grown up a lot over the last 50 years, it's time for Aiken County government to grow up as well," said Councilman Scott Singer.

Singer has been a strong supporter of the referendum to make these important positions appointed.

"These offices handle almost half a billion dollars a year, and I can't imagine a company or anybody in the private sector that would leave the important positions of managing and investing that money to chance," he said.

Right now, he says the state only requires a few things if you want to run for treasurer or auditor.

"You'd have to reside in the county in which you are running, and you'd have to have a high school education or eqivalent," said Singer.

However, we asked him if a vote of "yes" would increase the power of the government and scrap the checks and balances currently in place.

"That's poppycock," Singer said. "Right now, you have three offices that are more interested in protecting their turf than doing what's best."

But Aiken County Council Chairman Ronnie Young sees things very differently. He says the system that's in place now is working just fine. He says most other counties in the state, in fact, operate like Aiken County does now. He says he's voting "no" because a "yes" vote would take power away from the voter.

South Carolina Senate District 24

For State Senate District 24, voters will see the name Tom Young two times. One will be listed as a Republican, and the other, a petition candidate.

Young, who is the current State Representative for District 81, says he submitted a petition in case he got kicked off the ballot as a Republican.

Whichever Tom Young you vote for, that vote will go to the same person.

Aiken County Treasurer

Speaking of candidates kicked off the ballot, there are no candidates for treasurer on the Aiken County ballot. They were all disqualified by a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling in the spring. Since the primary, more and more write-in candidates have come out of the woodwork. Now, there are 11 in all who have submitted their intent to run as write-in candidates to the election office.

If you wish to vote for Aiken County Treasurer, you will be required to write in one of these 11 names on your ballot:

  • John Cagle
  • Debra Folk
  • Jason Goings
  • Angela Gunter
  • Melissa Oremus
  • Francis Pennington
  • Robin Saylor
  • Ed Smith
  • Sonya Spray
  • Mike Wheelis

Voters are encouraged to use both the Internet and Facebook to learn more about these candidates and remember a name when going to the polls.

Aiken County Auditor

Additionally, two candidates are vying for the auditor spot. On the ballot, you'll see current Aiken County Councilman Charles Barton, who's running as a Republican. Daniel Turno is running against Barton as a write-in candidate. If you wish to vote for Turno as Aiken County auditor, you will be required to write in his name on your ballot.


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