The South Carolina Supreme Court has turned down an appeal of last year's Atlantic Beach mayoral election, paving the way for Jake Evans to be sworn in as the town's mayor.
The high court affirmed an earlier Circuit Court ruling against town council member Windy Price. She had filed a lawsuit challenging the special May 22 election, which Evans won by a wide margin.
Gov. Nikki Haley ordered the special election, held after the November, 2011 election results were thrown out by the Atlantic Beach Election Commission.
Price contended in her lawsuit against the SC Election Commission and the Horry County Election Commission that the special election violated federal laws and that Haley had no right to order it.
Columbia attorney Robert Tyson, who represented the Horry County Election Commission, says that Price has the ability to file a motion to reconsider before the Supreme Court. Barring that motion, he said Evans must be sworn in.
A similar appeal of last year's election results filed by defeated Mayor Retha Pierce was dismissed by an SC Circuit Court last month.
Town council member Carolyn Cole says now that it appears Evans will be the new mayor, the town needs to focus on planning for the future.
"We're getting a little bit closer to us having to deal with our debt situation and the issues about planning and why we haven't moved forward, like the rest of the Grand Strand."
Cole says Evans was a member of the council that has failed to produce a state-required audit of the town's finances every year since 2005.
She says she hopes Evans will help unify the council, to help the town work its way out of nearly a million dollars in debt.
"It's not a new administration to us as landowners and residents, it is a continuation of some old policies that led us to no audits and no fiscal accountability to the public and so this is a place where I hope he will redeem himself," Cole said.
County officials say Price has ten days to ask the high court to reconsider its ruling. Price's attorney did not return our calls.
We also attempted to reach Evans and Pierce for comment. They did not return our calls.