Major line-up changes in Atlantic Beach Town Council Tuesday night

Carolyn Cole, Windy Price, sit with councilman Donnell Thompson. / Lindsey Theis

The Atlantic Beach Town Council met Tuesday night, and for the first time since the 2009 election, elected candidates Carolyn Cole and Windy Price took their seats.

"I knew that justice would eventually prevail, because I do believe in this country," Cole said.

Town Manager William Booker says the town clerk swore in Cole and Price Monday afternoon.

Price, Cole, and Councilman Donnell Thompson were present for the meeting. Councilman Jake Evans was absent.

"I always said we were one day closer going in, and I kept the faith and the patience that was needed throughout this whole process, so I never doubted it wasn't going to happen," Price said.

Council began the meeting by voting Cole Mayor Pro Tem. They then followed with three hours of going back and forth into executive session. By the time they were done, Atlantic Beach had several changes.

Council accepted the resignation of their previous town attorney. Booker said at the meeting he had never received any written notice of a resignation. They also ended contracts with the town's current judge and assistant judge. Booker, Cole said, would take a three week paid vacation.

In those vacancies, council appointed former police chief Benny Webb to be interim town manager. They also appointed Gary Deas to be interim town judge and Carolyn Hills to be interim town attorney. The group is supposed to be looking at who to hold accountable for a variety of issues, Cole said.

"We've got a 2006 audit and nothing going forward, and the state requires that every year. We know we have some citizen complaints on our law enforcement," she added.

On July 7th, The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled the Atlantic Beach Election Commission shouldn't have overturned the results of an election two years ago, accusing the board of a conscious decision to thwart the will of the voters.

In a unanimous decision, the justices ordered the two women who got the most votes in November 2009 to be placed on town council. It removed the incumbents who held the seats and had appealed the election.

Those incumbents were Charlene Taylor and Josephine Isom.

Monday, the South Carolina Supreme Court refused to reconsider its decision. The town Election Commission, Taylor, and Isom had asked justices to reconsider.

In the 2009 election, Cole and Price, who ran as write-in candidates, were declared winners for seats on the Atlantic Beach Town Council. But Taylor and Isom protested the results, questioning the legal residency of Price and Cole and citing irregularities in the election process.

A few weeks later, the town Election Commission held a hearing that lasted eleven hours, with the commission deciding in favor of the incumbents and ordering a new election.

Cole and Price filed an appeal. In June 2008, Judge Benjamin Culbertson upheld the election commission's decision.

Cole and Price appealed that decision, too, all the way to the state Supreme Court.In the Supreme Court hearing last April, the justices heard arguments from both sides and then told attorneys they would take the case under advisement and issue a ruling later, which came on July 7th.

Cole replaced Taylor, who was serving as acting mayor, in place of suspended mayor Retha Pierce.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.