Precisely 186 people have asked York Mayor Eddie Lee to run for a seat on the York County Council, Lee says.
On Thursday night at the York County Democratic convention, Lee heeded their calls, declaring his candidacy for the seat held by one-term Republican incumbent Joe Cox.
When people first started asking Lee to run for the District 3 seat, Lee says he smiled and shrugged it off. But at the party convention, he told listeners that he wants to take on the new role because, as he claimed repeatedly, "We can do better."
Lee made it a point to recognize Jane Gilfillan, the last Democrat to hold the western York County seat. "With your help, I'll be the next," he said.
Lee will run for the seat held by Cox, a former mayor of Sharon, who was elected to the council in 2006. Cox defeated incumbent Steve McNeely by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.
"We need some old-fashioned western York County common sense, and that's what I intend to bring to the County Council," Lee said earlier Thursday.
Lee has been mayor of York since 2002 when he beat out three other candidates, including incumbent Roddey Connolly. Filing for the County Council and other elected offices opens Sunday at noon.
Cox declined to comment about Lee's announcement but said he will definitely seek re-election.
"I feel like I've done a better than adequate job," he said. "We have gotten a lot of things accomplished in the year."
During his announcement, Lee stressed that the county can do better in managing the "Pennies for Progress" road improvements program. The county announced last fall that the program is facing a $22 million shortfall.
Since then, Lee has stressed the importance of completing the S.C. 5 bypass in York, where a new York high school will be built.
Lee says York County leaders have spent too much time arguing with each other.
"They have bickered, and they have argued, and they have not moved us forward," he said. "Democrats, Republicans and independents need to agree, so we can move the county forward."
Two years are left on Lee's term as mayor, and a special election would be required to fill his seat should he be elected to the County Council.
On Thursday, Lee touted his tenure as mayor, saying he's helped bring economic growth and development to downtown York.
"It's made the downtown the envy of other cities in this area," he said.
Lee is targeting his campaign outside the York city limits by drawing attention to family ties on his mother's side in Hickory Grove and Sharon.
"My roots in that part of that county go way back," he said.
Former County Councilman McNeely also is said to be considering another run. Reached Thursday, McNeely said he hadn't reached a decision and declined to comment further.