FORT MILL -- Fort Mill Town Councilman Grady Ervin surprised fellow council members Monday night by announcing plans to resign as of midnight Dec. 31.
First elected in 1976, Ervin became a fixture on the council, serving 25 of the last 31 years.
"I lost two or three elections along the way, back when we had two-year terms," Ervin said. "I'm the old one on the block."
Several reasons drove Ervin's decision to resign, he said without elaborating on specifics. It was a move he's been contemplating for several months.
"I used to lay awake at night wondering why certain things couldn't be different, but I finally got that out of my system," Ervin said of his early years on the council. "I started waking up again in the middle of the night so I decided I wasn't going to do that again, it was time for me to let someone else take over."
Ervin, 78, said he knows better than anyone else that it is time for him to leave. As far as he knows he's not ill, but he does worry about his age and health.
Through the years Ervin often found himself in the minority on council votes. He has no regrets though.
"Sometimes I think I could have done a better job at things, but the majority rules, and if you're not in the majority you can't do much," he said. "I always believed in majority rule, but I also believe the majority isn't always right."
"It was a complete surprise, a bolt out of the blue," Mayor Danny Funderburk said. "Councilman Ervin has been such a fixture on the council for so many years; I think he's done a great job."
Councilman Kerry Mosher said he wondered why Ervin, earlier in the meeting, had voted to support requests for town support of Art on Main and the Fall Festival without questioning the expenses. The requests included spending approximately $450 to pay public works employees and police officers to work both events.
"I haven't been on council that long, but I expected him to ask a money question," Mosher said.
State law allows Ervin to determine when he will step down, and he chose Dec. 31 so that a new council member could be sworn in at the beginning of the year. He announced the resignation Monday night in the hopes that Fort Mill could hold the election for his replacement in November with the general election and not have to hold a special election.
However, town attorney Bayles Mack was not sure how state election laws would apply in this case. Generally, the law requires that potential candidates have a set number of days following the vacancy to file for the seat, with the election coming on the 13th Tuesday following the vacancy. He planned to confer with York County election officials this morning.
Whoever is elected to replace Ervin in Ward 2 will have three years left on the current term before coming up for re-election.
Ervin said when he ran for re-election last year, he hadn't planned to leave the council prior to the end of his term.