Fort Mill went from no races this fall to multiple candidates from the same house.
Husband and wife candidates John and Julia Beilsmith filed to run for Fort Mill Town Council on Thursday afternoon, just hours after Patti Rumsey did the same. Meaning two of three seats up for election will be contested come November.
Filing ended Friday.
“My husband and I were just interested in the way things are going, and more things that aren't going,” Julia Beilsmith said. “We see things on the agenda, and things that aren't moving.”
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Julia Beilsmith ran once prior, the last time Ward 3 came open four years ago. This time, she will run for an at-large seat. It’s John Beilsmith who will run in Ward 3, against incumbent Larry Huntley. Julia Beilsmith said having both their ward and an at-large seat open at the same time created an opportunity. Running against each other for one seat wouldn’t have been ideal.
“It makes it a little bit of strife in the household,” she said.
Julia works for a wastewater management company, John as an IT manager. They moved to Fort Mill in 2012. A year later, Julia ran for the first time. Now, she said, there are plenty of reasons to get involved in Fort Mill politics.
“We are just not content with the way things are going, and this is our opportunity to change it,” Julia Beilsmith said.
A main concern is roads, she said. Town leadership needs to be active, she said, in getting state funding to improve roads or build new ones.
“We can't say we want them,” Julia Beilsmith said. “We actually have to put ourselves on the agenda. We can't allow them to prioritize us.”
The at-large seat election puts her against incumbent Trudie Heemsoth and fellow challenger Rumsey.
Rumsey, a realtor who moved here with her husband and two high school age children a little more than a year ago, said she wants to help connect issues facing both long-time Fort Mill residents and so many of the newer ones arriving.
“I was just a little concerned about the amount of growth that's happening,” she said. “That's a big general statement there, but I’m concerned about infrastructure, what's going on, what's being done.”
She believes small business owners in town need to be set up for success. Including ones who set up shop years ago and helped make Fort Mill what it is.
“I'm concerned about bettering Main Street, making sure that small businesses are getting a fair shake at competing with what's coming in,” Rumsey said.
She recently spoke with long-time business owners and wants to understand as much as she can about the town she now calls home. Rumsey understands others, particularly incumbents, have been here much longer than she has. But also that long-time residents won’t be the only ones voting.
“I need that perspective, but you cannot deny that there's so much growth happening,” Rumsey said. “You can't just think those (new) people aren't going to vote. They are going to vote.”
A last-minute filing could mean a candidate isn’t listed until a little after the official closing of a filing period. Unless that happened in Fort Mill, six candidates will look to lock down three seats. Only incumbent Jamie Shirey filed for Ward 1.