GREENVILLE COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – Tuesday’s primary election caused a shake-up for Greenville County Council.
Two incumbent council members lost in their primaries, after serving for years, while a third is heading to a runoff in two weeks.
Whether it’s the sights or the sounds, a love for Greenville County has kept councilman Joe Dill serving district 17 for 24 years.
“The largest in the county. One-third of Greenville County, and it’s the prettiest and the most prestigious. I mean it’s beautiful,” Dill said of his district. “I would’ve never run if it hadn’t been that I want to protect that, and I don’t believe that there’s anybody else in the race that would even do that.”
On Tuesday night, Dill lost his seat after opponent Joey Russo won the Republican primary. Dill believes that’s partially due to developers and realtors.
“I think a lot of untruths were told – mail-outs that confused a lot of the new people that’s come here,” Dill explained. “They don’t know what I’ve done for this community. They don’t know about the ordinances that I’ve put in place to protect this area. That the development community has killed those ordinances.”
Russo, a former Greenville County Sheriff’s Office deputy who is now running his family’s decades-old business, said he was shocked by Tuesday night’s results.
“It was a little bit of shock,” Russo said. “It was just humbling. It was a huge blessing. A lot of work, and a lot of faith and a lot of prayer.”
Russo is hoping to bring fresh perspective and vision for the area, if he wins the seat in November.
“Over the past couple of years, it’s shown the importance of strong leadership, fresh vision,” Russo said. “I think it’s really important that my generation of people–as younger people, to step up and show that we’re ready to take responsibility here in the community and serve.”
“Really the main focus is on managing responsible growth–making sure we’re allowing freedom and, in everything that goes with that, with development that we need,” Russo said. “More planning. More responsibility and making sure we’re not ruining the character of our community, but also not inhabiting people from selling their property and using their American born freedoms.”
Russo said he also wants to focus on taking care of first responders, too, if he is elected.
In another race, Greenville County Councilman Lynn Ballard of District 26 lost his seat to challenger Richard “Rick” Bradley.
Ballard, who has served for eight years, said that “while the very low turnout of voters is disappointing, the majority of those who did vote chose my opponent. That is the way a representative democracy works. I wish him and the residents well.”
“I am not an experienced politician, but as a tax paying resident of this community for over 41 years, I’m concerned with how fast our district is growing without adequate planning, representation and support from our County Government,” reads a statement on Bradley’s campaign page. “I’m not against growth, but our community needs a voice in the decisions affecting those of us who are already here and for those who may be coming.”
Bradley told 7News he is qualified for this seat with 30 years in business and management. He said he has also been active in his church, which is a plus for serving the community.
“My first priority is Jesus Christ,” Bradley said. “So I know how to serve. When you’re in a church, you’re going to serve. I’m just taking that to the next level. Where we were serving 300, I’m going to serve 44,000.”
“They put me here, I’m going to be their voice,” he said.
As for Dill and district 17, he said he will continue to fight.
“Well, my next step is to ask for a recount because it was about a 100 votes,” Dill said. “And if that fails, then I’m going to be forced to do a write in campaign. So I’m not finished,”
“I feel like I owe it to the people that I represent to fight for them,” Dill said.
Councilmen Ballard and Dill both said their terms end on December 31st.
Russo will run against the Democratic nominee in the general election in November.
In district 19, Council Chairman Willis Meadows will head to a runoff against Benton Blount. Meadows finished second in the primary with 31.5% of the vote. Blount finished with 35.1% of the vote.