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Copeland, McGee enter city council race in Hartsville

December 14, 2018

HARTSVILLE, S.C. - By late Thursday, two candidates had filed to run for a Hartsville City Council seat in a special election on Feb. 19.

Casey Copeland and Bobby McGee are seeking to fill the vacancy created in the District 6 seat by the recent resignation of former Councilman Billy Shirley.

McGee, of McGee Financial Group in Hartsville, announced his campaign for the District 6 seat on the council at a campaign kickoff event Thursday at The Edition in downtown Hartsville. He filed to run for the seat shortly after the two-week filing period opened on Dec. 7.

The filing period for the special election closes at noon on Dec. 21.

In his announcement before a group of friends, family and supporters, McGee said he grew up in a cotton mill village in Georgia and came to Hartsville as a young man in the banking industry. He said he wants to take his years of service in the community through various activities to a new level.

“I am running to give back to the city and the community that have supported me and my family for 30 years,” McGee said.

On Wednesday, Copeland, the director of Florence-Darlington Technical College’s Hartsville site, also filed to run for the District 6 seat.

“I am running because I care about the future of Hartsville for our kids and grandkids, plain and simple,” Copeland said.

Shirley resigned from the District 6 seat at the end of November, saying he and his wife, Johnna, plan to move to Anderson to be closer to family. Johnna Shirley recently secured a new job with Anderson University. Their adult sons and grandchildren live in the Upstate. Shirley represented District 6 on the council for 16 years.

Whoever wins the Feb. 19 special election will serve the remainder of Shirley’s term, which expires next November. The seat will be up for election for a full four-year term in the November 2019 general municipal election.

Copeland is making his second bid for the District 6 seat. He ran for it in 2015 but lost by a single vote to Shirley, 53–52.

“My vision for Hartsville – a safe and prosperous one – comes not from my own opinions and biases but by looking through the eyes of our children and the public at large,” Copeland said.

“I have a very diverse background working with the public, proven leadership skills, a military veteran and an extensive education,” Copeland said. “It is second nature to me to work for the public and I will continue to do so whether I am elected or not.”

On his Facebook page, Copeland cited among his leadership experiences being named the 2014 Hartsville Rotary Citizen of the Year, his involvement as a member of the Thomas Hart Academy Board of Directors, his work with Florence-Darlington Technical College in Hartsville and as a founder of OneHartsville, a group that seeks to promote community through individual and group relationships.

McGee cited his involvement in the community over the years, including Rotary, Hartsville Downtown Development from its early days, service as the co-chairman of the Centennial Park committee and his involvement with the Greater Hartsville Chamber of Commerce. “You’ve seen me,” he said. “You know me. I’ve been visible in the community for 30 years. You know you can approach me and talk to me.”

He said city council members represent more than just one district but the whole city. And he said he wants to be a part of a council in a city that “does not take no for an answer.”

McGee said Hartsville has the building blocks in place for future progress and he said he wants to help “connect the dots” to help Hartsville continue to prosper for all of its residents.

City council elections in Hartsville are nonpartisan.

Candidates for the special election must file with the city clerk’s office at Hartsville City Hall, 100 E. Carolina Ave., and pay a $38.25 filing fee.

Persons wishing to vote in the Feb. 19 special election must be registered to vote by Jan. 20, 2019. To register, contact the Darlington County Board of Elections and Registration at 131 Cashua St., Darlington or call 843-398-4900.

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