Could 'Mickey Mouse' be Aiken County's next treasurer?

Ballot in Aiken County

In November, there won't be any candidates on the ballot for Aiken County treasurer, a position that handles an excess of $250 million a year. (WRDW-TV / July 18, 2012)

News 12 at First at Five / Wednesday, July 18, 2012

AIKEN, S.C. -- Treasurer candidate Angela Gunter says she can finally spend some time with her granddaughter.

"We have pretty much put family to the side for a while, and now it's time to get back to them for a while, and then we'll get back to the grindstone," she said.

It's all because of that state Supreme Court decision months ago that disqualified candidates from all over the state, including nine from Aiken County.

Gunter was disqualified, but she had the opportunity to get back on the ballot if she could get signatures from 5 percent of the registered voters in Aiken County. That means she needed to get about 5,000.

After more than two months of collecting signatures to get back on the ballot as a treasurer candidate in Aiken County, Gunter came up short. She collected 4,000 signatures in all, but that's still a thousand short of how many she needed to get back on the ballot.

Now, the deadline to collect more signatures has come and gone.

"When we heard 5,000, we were like, 'Oh! We're going to get 10,000!' but, as closer and closer the deadline got, we realized that it was very hard," Gunter said.

She wasn't the only one who failed. The other three did, too. In November, there won't be any candidates on the ballot for Aiken County treasurer, a position that handles an excess of $250 million a year.

"It's a lot of money. It's not just you're handling, you know, a thousand dollars, you know, in a little account. This is the real job," said Van Smith, the owner of Lionel Smith, Ltd.

Smith is a bit concerned. As candidates like Gunter gear up for write-in campaigns, Smith says the electoral process has been turned on its head.

"It's going to be where you could possibly have 50 votes and win, and I think that that is just not the way it needs to be done," he said.

So this November, Aiken County's new treasurer will be decided by whomever's name voters write down the most.

"Mickey Mouse, I guess, could win. I hope he doesn't," said Smith jokingly.

Voters will also have the option to make county treasurers and auditors appointed and not elected. That "change of government" referendum will be on the ballot in November.

Aiken County Councilman Scott Singer is pushing for the change. In previous interviews with News 12, he told us he thought none of the candidates running for both auditor or treasurer were properly credentialed.

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