FLORENCE, S.C. − Current members of the Florence City Council gathered together in person Monday afternoon for the first time in months and the last time for many members.
The council has been conducting its meetings virtually since the state implemented restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in March. Monday was also the final city council meeting for four of the members, making the meeting the final one for this council as a group.
Florence Mayor Stephen J. Wukela and Councilwoman Octavia Williams-Blake elected not to run for reelection. Florence Mayor Pro Tempore Frank J. “Buddy” Brand II was elected to fill the remaining two years of a term on the Florence County Council. Councilman Glynn Willis was defeated by Lethonia “Peaches” Barnes and Chaquez McCall in the Democratic primary for two at-large seats. Barnes and McCall won the council seats last week in the general election.
In addition, Councilwoman Teresa Myers Ervin was elected mayor, meaning a fifth member will be in a new role.
Wukela spoke about the changes before the council took any action at Monday’s meeting.
“I know some of you … may be prone to being emotional today, but let me say that it was only one loss,” Wukela said.
Wukela and Williams Blake are graduates of Clemson University. The Tigers’ football team lost to Notre Dame in overtime Saturday night.
“They’re going to be in the playoffs,” Wukela said. “It’s just that they [Notre Dame] were a top four team. We’ll get past this.”
Wukela then noted the elections of Brand and Myers Ervin.
He said Brand’s election to the county council was bittersweet. Wukela also expressed hope that Brand could help the city and county work closer together. He also said that the city will miss Brand.
Wukela said he felt that that the council and city would be well-served by Myers Ervin going forward. He said he was excited to see what Myers Ervin’s tenure will bring to the city.
He then added that Barnes and McCall were in the audience for the meeting.
“Y’all will be in the hot seat come next month,” Wukela said.
Wukela then explained that newly elected members of municipalities take office in December rather than in January as the county or state offices do. He added that Brand was an exception because he was elected to fill the remainder of a term, thus he will be taking office next week at the Florence County Council meeting.
The swearing in ceremony for Myers Ervin, Barnes, and McCall will be held Thursday.
In action items, the city approved the second reading of the annexation of a property in the Grove subdivision and first readings of ordinances granting Florence County an easement on Dargan Street for the construction of a sidewalk, annexing and zoning a property on Jody Road that will be the location of a city fire station, annexing and zoning two properties along Texas Road, and annexing and zoning a property on Shenandoah Lane.
The council also approved also resolutions extending the city’s face masks requirements, designating Dec. 4 as Arbor Day in the city and adopting a CARES Act budget.
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