Fort Mill Times

Tega Cay voters unseat 2 City Council incumbents

The Tega Cay City Council will have two new faces in 2016.

Voters elected David O’Neal and Ryan Richard on Tuesday from among a pool of seven candidates that included incumbents Ron Kirby and Chris Larsen. Official numbers weren’t available by press time, but city officials announced the results to residents citing unofficial returns.

Both presumed winners and both incumbents confirmed the outcome. All candidates had gathered at Casual Water in Tega Cay to await results.

O’Neal, 58, is a 15-year Tega Cay resident who ran unsuccessfully for a City Council seat in 2013. Based on numbers posted at voting precincts after the polls closed, he learned he made the cut Tuesday night prior to the county election office reporting final numbers.

“I got the reports from four of the five precincts, and it looks like it’s insurmountable,” he said. “The mayor (George Sheppard) just came up and congratulated me. Quite frankly, it’s shocking.”

O’Neal said he learned from mistakes he made in his 2013 campaign, when he lost by 83 votes. This time, he said, he listened to community concerns and met with more voters. He and Richard ran on curbing growth, traffic, high density development and other issues he believes were key to the election.

“I hope it sends a message to the city that people in the city aren’t completely happy with what’s going on,” O’Neal said.

Richard, 38, who moved to Tega Cay six years ago, said he has learned more about city government in the past 45 days than he did in the previous six years. He, too, met with residents and ran on a platform of increased communication. He and O’Neal pitched many of the same goals to voters.

“We’re both super excited,” Richard said Tuesday night. “The citizens of Tega Cay spoke out. They were ready for some change.”

Richard applauded the service of Kirby and Larsen.

“Ron and Chris, they’re two great guys,” he said. “They’ve done a lot for the city. Tonight, the people spoke.”