Georgetown elects first ever African-American mayor, makes history
The Georgetown mayoral election made history this week. Brendon Barber is the first African-American elected mayor. He beat out county councilmember Ron Carlton with 61-percent of the vote. While Barber said he realizes the historical significance of his appointment, he said being mayor is all about connecting with people.
Barber is a seventh generation local and served on council for 20 years. Coming fresh off election night, he said his work starts now. A major focal point is creating jobs.
“I want to be the mayor that unites Georgetown, so we can move forward from an economic standpoint, from a housing standpoint and just from a people standpoint,” said Barber. “We really want the job market to increase. I know folks are concerned about the Steel Mill re-opening and that’s a big plus, but before that Steel Mill re-opens, we have to establish a safe and healthy environment for our citizens.”
He added the town will be keeping close tabs on the environmental impacts that may come with the Steel Mill and said they’re seeking grants from the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a baseline study for future reference.
In the meantime, Barber said he’s interested in building a tech-community and establishing tech firms in the area. But to create new jobs, he said they must also focus on development since there’s currently a housing shortage.
“Right now there’s a shortage because even our young professionals that come to town, they have to go to Horry County for apartments and just to find housing,” he said.
People like John Ballinger welcome change. Ballinger lives a few blocks from the Steel Mill, something he does not want to see running again.
“I’d like the see the Steel Mill taken down and rejuvenated that whole area along the bay,” said Ballinger. “I think in the long run it would be better off for the city to develop that whole area.”
By next election cycle, Barber hopes Georgetown will blossom into a better version of the character town it is today.