Shirey wins vacant Fort Mill Town Council seat

Realtor James Shirey won the Ward 1 seat on the Fort Mill Town Council, according to unofficial results from the York County Voter Registration and Elections office.

With all nine precincts reporting, Shirey had 79 votes to 19 for Sean Jones, not including any provisional ballots.

This was the first election held since a new voter ID law went into effect requiring voters to show a valid photo ID. Anyone showing up at the polls without one or whose name wasn’t on the voter rolls would be allowed to cast a provisional ballot.

Elections officials didn’t anticipate many – if any at all – provisional ballots were cast. If there are any, they will be counted when the vote is certified at the elections office in York at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Shirey, 43, who moved to Fort Mill with his wife and daughter three years ago from Florida, is a Realtor with Keller Williams and formerly worked as a home builder. He will finish the two years left on the term by Nathan Blythe, who moved out of the state earlier this year.

Town officials were unsure Tuesday when the winner of the election will be sworn in. Shirey said he looks forward to getting caught up and involved in council business.

“I’d like to reach out to those guys (on the council) and get up to speed on what they have on the docket,” he said.

There’s one project Shirey said already has his interest.

“I was looking at plans for the new Riverview Elementary School and I saw (the town) is putting a trail along there. It dead-ends where it meets the Old Orchard neighborhood and there’s another trail that dead-ends there at Harris Street Park and there’s only 150 to 200 yards that you need to connect the two trails,” he said.

“If you connect those two tips, you can walk from the school to the big park where they hold the Strawberry Festival. That’s something I think the whole community can get behind. I’d also like to sit down and talk about zoning and multi-use zoning and make sure we get some businesses, restaurants and some retail stuff so we’re not just a bedroom community. We need to operate in that mindset.”

Jones, 27, who relocated to Fort Mill from Louisiana in May, is a pharmacist for Wal-Mart. Neither he nor Shirey did much campaigning, but Jones said he has no regrets.

“Maybe in the future if I run again I’ll get out and meet the public and do more campaigning for sure,” he said. “It was my first time, I’m new to the area. It was good to get out there and get my name out there. I don’t think there’s any regrets.”

It was one of the lowest voter turnouts in recent memory, elections officials said.

Only 1.2 percent of the 8,806 eligible voters cast ballots.

In 2013, incumbent Councilman Larry Huntley defeated challenger Julia Beilsmith with 253 votes to her 50 when only 3.26 percent of the town’s then 9,277 eligible voters cast ballots. The year before, Blythe won his seat by default when no other candidate filed to run and the election was canceled.