Candidates file for Ehrhardt election

Two candidates filed for the office of the mayor and three filed for two open town council seats for the November 3rd election in the Town of Ehrhardt. Each position is for a four year term as required by law.

In the race for mayor, Frank Ogle is challenging incumbent Mayor Bill Stanley. Ogle, a native of Norfolk, Virginia, is an engineer and has been a resident of Ehrhardt for 12 years. He is owner of the Ehrhardt Bed and Breakfast and a self-described ‘handyman to the town.’

Relatively new to politics, Ogle cites his first involvement in politics in 2003, when he reviewed all the data for the school system (Bamberg School District One) and challenged the district’s decision to close the school in Ehrhardt.

He bases his qualification to be the next mayor of Ehrhardt on his 35 years of experience running Fortune 500 companies with multi-million dollar budgets and supervising thousands of people. He said that he is running for mayor at this time because; “my energy level, cooperation with the citizens, education, experience, and health can be better put to work serving all the citizens of the Town of Ehrhardt.”

He cited his starting a park in town and spending over 1,000 hours tearing down the fire station as examples of his trying to clean up and improve the town.

Ogle noted that he was running for mayor because of what he saw as the “slow pace” in which things are done in the town, giving the new water system the town was told it would receive four years ago and to this point no contracts have been issued.

He observed that the sewer system that was put in has been “plagued with continued problems” that has taken years to straighten out, which he attributes to a “lack of oversight.”

“We do not want to go through that with the new water system,” he said. Ogle stated that he did not see the need for the city to spend thousands of dollars on a city administrator which he said had not been done in the past.

He said his familiarity with the citizens of Ehrhardt and they with him, is the reason he is running for office. “A significant number of citizens of all economic levels know me and know that they can call me for assistance on a variety of issues.”

Incumbent Mayor William “Bill” Stanley is seeking his fourth term office as mayor of Ehrhardt. Stanley said that his “over riding” goal if elected mayor again is the completion of the town’s pending $3.8 million water project.

“In all honesty I’ve done all I could to help the people of this town,” Stanley said. “If we are able to continue to serve the people of this town by being reelected, I want to see the water project through to completion and that will be my swan song.”

Stanley stated that advertisements for bids on the project have gone out to contractors who are looking at the plans and specs. Bids are expected to be received in early October and the town is looking to select a bid that is within its budget. Stanley acknowledges that the town has faced a lot of in getting near the “back end” of having a new water system.

Before the water project could begin the town was informed by DHEC that the waste water treatment system had to be redone by putting in a spray field at a cost of $1.3 million which was secured through grants and a $50,000 loan from the bank. After the wastewater system was complete the town then turned its attention to the water project.

“It took a lot of hard work by a lot of people. I don’t take any of the credit. I was just the catalyst for making it happen,” stated Stanley. He noted funding for the $3.8 million project, thought to be the biggest ever in the town of Ehrhardt, will come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, the Department of Commerce, State of South Carolina Competitive Grants Money and $500,00 from Congressman Jim Clyburn’s Omnibus Spending Budget.

Along with hopefully seeing the water project come to fruition, Stanley noted that when he came in as mayor, the town was in a financial crisis and has since been turned around. He said a new fire department was built during his administration and Copeland Ball Field was built with funds through the Department of Parks and Recreation (PRT).

“It’s been a long time coming, we’re trying to get something accomplished for the people of this town,” Stanley said.

Preston Davis is running to fill one of the two open seats on Ehrhardt Town Council. Davis is a native of Neeses and has lived in Ehrhardt the last 12 years. He has been the owner and operator of Grandma’s House, a furniture store in the town for the last nine years.

Davis said he is running for city council because; “Being in business over the years I’ve had a lot of people come in and talk about what the town needs. The people of the town need help, helping the people is what I enjoy doing and the Town of Ehrhardt needs to grow. The more businesses in the town, the more people will come.”

Davis stated he has no objection with the current city leaders and says under the circumstances they are doing “an excellent job.” He cited the town’s acquisition of the old Ehrhardt Elementary School and the possibilities it brings as an example of the town moving in the right direction. He said he would implement an “open door policy” for people who wanted to come in and meet “one-on-one” and discuss any problem with services they are having.

He also said his main priorities in office would be to secure more government grants to improve the downtown area and other services such as water and cable. Davis said, “I love people and meeting people. I’m here for the people. If elected, I will do my best, but, I am not a miracle worker.”

Freddie Copeland, a native of Ehrhardt, is seeking a second term on Ehrhardt Town Council. Copeland, who is retired from the Department of Social Services (DSS) after 30 years of service, said he got into politics, when he was encouraged to run, because he was told he could offer something to the city.

Copeland went on to say that he really didn’t plan to run for a second term, but he wanted to help Mayor Bill Stanley with the new water system. He said his two goals in wanting to return to town council were; getting a new town hall (which he noted had been accomplished with the town securing the school building) and the building of a new water system.

Copeland said he has seen a lot of improvements in the town the last four years in getting rid of ‘eye sores’ and adopting the County’s Land Use Policy. He cited the new Copeland Softball Field, discussions of a possible streetscape project, improvements of the town’s waste water treatment system and even a new Family Dollar store as examples of the town’s growth.

“Ehrhardt has made a lot of progress the last four years and I hope we can make progress the next four years,” Copeland said.

At press time, Bennie Hughes, the third candidate for city council was unavailable for comment.