NEWBERRY COUNTY — Newberry County elected the following individuals into office on Tuesday: Rick Martin (State House of Representatives District 40), Lee Foster (sheriff), Laura Kneece (coroner), Elizabeth Folk (clerk of court), Harriett Rucker (County Council District 5) and Lucy Meetze (School Board District 3).
The following individuals ran unopposed and were elected into the positions for which they ran: Donna Lominack (auditor), Karen Lindler Smith (treasurer), Scott Cain (County Council District 1), Steve Stockman (County Council District 2), Kirksey Koon (County Council District 4), Douglas Heydt (Soil and Water District Commission), Ike Bledsoe (School Board District 1), Jody Hamm (School Board District 4) and Jessie Reeder (School Board District 6).
Ronnie Cromer (State Senate District 18) and David Stumbo (Solicitor Circuit 8) also ran unopposed and won their races. The Capital Project Sales Tax Referendum was also approved, with 11,061 people voting yes and 5,111 voting no.
State House District 40
Republican Rick Martin received 9,714 votes, defeating Democrat Carlton Kinard, who received 6,801.
“I am grateful to the citizens of Newberry County that trusted me. I am humbled by the show of support tonight,” Martin said. “We worked hard during the past year, talking to thousands of voters and listening to their concerns. I thank my wife, Fran, and my entire family for their love and support. I could not run this campaign without them.
“My promise to the people of Newberry, I will work hard everyday for less taxes, better roads and higher paying jobs,” Martin added. “I have tough shoes to fill. For 20 years, Walt McLeod did a great job responding to the needs of his constituents, and I will work hard to provide the same level of service.”
Kinard thanked his supporters, saying he was blessed to be able to run for this position. He also thanked God for allowing him the opportunity.
“We came up short this time, but in the future we will be back. I will always be here, I am not going anywhere and I am not giving up,” Kinard said.
Incumbent Democrat Lee Foster received 13,790 votes, defeating Republican challenger David Beddingfield who received 2,905.
“I never imagined that it would be by this margin,” Foster said. “I am just so thankful for everyone in Newberry County, the overwhelming support and the stamp of approval. Not only do I thank the thousands of friends, family and neighbors that supported me, but my immediate family. Carol standing out there with a sign waving at people, she was our primary sign erector in town, and my father-in-law and mother-in-law travelled all over Newberry County putting up signs. I could not have done it without them.”
Beddingfield congratulated Foster on his victory, saying he was a strong opponent who ran a strong campaign.
“I would like to thank all of my supporters for trusting me with their vote. Tomorrow I will be returning to Prosperity and I will continue to serve and protect this county that I love,” he said. “As I stated throughout the campaign, we need to continue to make progress and I intend to work with the sheriff and other law enforcement for a better future.”
Clerk of Court
Democrat Beth Folk received 10,017 votes, defeating Republican Rick Lail, who received 6,362.
“I am glad I won, and I appreciate everything everyone had done for me,” Folk said. “Now I am ready to get to work as clerk of court and relax a bit. The support from everyone has been great, and I could not have done it without them. The community has been really standing by me.”
Attempts to reach Lail for comment were unsuccessful.
Republican Laura Kneece received 8,956 votes, defeating Democrat Lewis Lee who received 7,503 votes.
“If it was not for my family, friends and supporters, this could have never happened. If it was not for the citizens of Newberry County believing in me and knowing that Newberry County needs a fresh start when it comes to the Coroner’s Office, this would have never happened,” Kneece said. “And I am ready to go to work and build a Coroner’s Office that they respect, and love, and I am ready to just show compassion and show my experience and qualifications this county deserves.”
Lee said he wishes her well.
“I do not know if I will run for re-election. I have retired three times and I have a small farm and grandchildren that I enjoy, but I will continue to work with Newberry County anyway I can,” he said.
County Council District 5
Democrat challenger Harriett Rucker received 1,079 votes, defeating incumbent Republican Les Hipp, who received 1,064 votes.
“This is an exciting night, and I really appreciate it. I want to say how happy I am, how much I appreciate everybody who voted,” Rucker said. “I want to say to Mr. Hipp, I appreciate the kind of race he ran. He is a friend, but I look forward to my service on County Council.”
School Board District 3
Incumbent Lucy Meetze received 1,067 votes, defeating challenger Leila Caldwell, who received 826 votes.
“I am very pleased and just want to thank everybody that came out to support me. I’m just very thankful and overwhelmed to serve again.” Meetze said.
Caldwell said this was her first time running, and she thinks she did well. She said she will continue to be a voice for all students and teachers.
“The support from my family and the community has been wonderful and I want to thank them for supporting me. I will always continue to fight for our students,” she said.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 and reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868. Both can be reached on Twitter @TheNBOnews.