Fort Mill Times

Tega Cay has itself a race. Three candidates file ahead of noon Monday deadline.

The race is on in Tega Cay.

Three candidates filed for one unexpired Tega Cay City Council seat by the noon Monday deadline. Abigal Duval, Gus Matchunis and Mike Tullos will vie for a seat opened when former council member David O’Neal became mayor. The election for the unexpired seat will be March 20.

Duval, who came tantalizingly close to winning a council seat last fall, filed Monday morning. She has been in Tega Cay almost a decade. She worked in technology with Bank of America, and now works with Allen Tate Realtors. Duval fell just 29 votes shy of second place in a seven-way race for two seats last fall. The vote was so close, Duval within 1 percent of second, that a recount was required.

“We saw a huge shift from the election in November, for the direction residents say they want to go in Tega Cay,” Duval said. “Through their votes, they made that decision.”

Duval sees herself in line with the new council.

“We’ve got four council members who have all verbally committed to either stopping or slowing resident growth in Tega Cay,” she said. “We now have three candidates including myself who have all committed to stopping or slowing residential growth.”

Matchunis filed Friday for the open council seat. Like Duval, Matchunis ran unsuccessfully last fall as part of the seven-way race. His reason for wanting to serve hasn’t changed.

“Tega Cay is my home, and has been my home for over 20 years,” he said. “I moved here for ‘the good life’ with my children in 1997 and still have three in middle and elementary school. I want to protect that lifestyle and our community so my children can raise their children here, too.”

Matchunis is the service director for a car dealership in Rock Hill. He lived for years in the older section of Tega Cay, and recently moved to a newer one. He said he understands the struggles the town has come through, and others facing it now.

“No one is better qualified to represent all of our city and be a voice for everyone,” Matchunis said. “I can be that voice.”

The first candidate to file was first-timer Mike Tullos. Tullos was first in line, putting his name in with the county registration office Jan. 16. Tullos, vice president of Cramer Pest Control, said he and other residents enjoy all Tega Cay has to offer and now it’s time for him to do his part.

“I’ve been in Tega Cay 11 years now, and I’ve known the previous mayor and most of the council people,” Tullos said. “We’re just kind of being a sponge. The city’s great, it runs smooth, but we’re just reaping the benefit, and I thought it’s time to give back.”

Originally from Ohio, Tullos spent 25 years in Jacksonville, Fla., before coming to Tega Cay. He supported former mayor George Sheppard and Dottie Hersey, a former council member who ran unsuccessfully to succeed Sheppard last fall, and wants to see new leaders continued their momentum. Tullos is “100 percent behind” the new council members, too.

“I want to make sure Tega Cay remains Tega Cay,” he said. “The momentum is my main thing. In the past eight years we’ve seen a lot of changes come about in Tega Cay, and they seem to all be for the better.”

In November, candidates Alicia Dasch and Heather Overman won council seats left open when Hersey lost to new Mayor David O’Neal after Sheppard opted not to run again and now former Councilwoman Jennifer Stalford also decided not to seek another term. Defeating Hersey in the mayoral race meant O’Neal had to leave his unexpired council term, prompting the upcoming election March 20.

Five other candidates ran for the two council seats alongside Dasch and Overman.

With two of the three new candidates having just finished campaigns, and with all of them seeing the way city residents voted so short a time ago, the coming election may offer candidates insight into what issues are most important in the election.

“It brings a new dynamic for this open seat,” Duval said.