Hemingway mayor, council member step down

February 15, 2019
Grady Richardson

HEMINGWAY, S.C. – Hemingway Mayor Grady Richardson has retired effective Thursday. He served as the town’s mayor for nearly 23 years and was re-elected in July.

Richardson’s wife, Jenny Richardson, delivered his letter of retirement to members of the Hemingway Town Council and the media before the start of a council meeting on Thursday.

In the letter, Richardson said he was “fiercely attacked with venom spewing words” in an attempt to inform the council of where Hemingway Town Administrator Joe Lee not only failed to follow through on several items from past council meetings, but also told an “outright falsehood when telling the truth would have better served the town.”

Richardson said that in his opinion, previous councils have had disagreements but members have never attacked each other. But that changed at the council meeting on Jan. 10, he said.

“It is apparent that the differences between the town administrator, the majority of council members and myself are such that I feel we are at an impasse,” Richardson said. “I feel without the support of the majority of the council members to question the actions of the administrator, I can no longer be an effective Mayor to do what is in the best interest for the citizens of the Town of Hemingway.”

Richardson was first sworn in as mayor of Hemingway in 1996. He said that during his tenure as mayor, he has seen the town undergo significant progress with its water and sewer system, a new industrial park, downtown revitalization and many council members come and go.

Following an executive session at the start of Thursday’s council meeting, Hemingway attorney Greg Askins announced that the council accepted both the resignation of Richardson and Councilman John Coker. Neither Coker nor Richardson attended Thursday’s meeting.

Coker’s resignation letter said he was asked to run for a seat on the council more than a decade ago, and he has enjoyed being on the council and having his voice heard.

“The last 6 months, however, have not been enjoyable or productive, and I feel things are stagnant,” Coker said in the letter. “The negative atmosphere within and round town council have led me to a hard decision that I did not think I would have to make. I feel the best interest of the town of Hemingway is suffering due to this negativity, and as I stated over a decade ago that I would not remain in such an atmosphere.”

Askins said the resignations will cause a special election to be held. The election will have to be coordinated with the election commission ran by Williamsburg County. Both elections would probably be held at the same time, he said.

George Sutton, who was serving as mayor pro tem on the council, is now serving as the acting mayor. The council elected Councilman Charlie Carter on Thursday evening to now serve as mayor pro tem.