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DENMARK – An election for three seats on Denmark City Council will be held Tuesday, Feb. 12, in the city of Denmark, with three incumbents and two new candidates vying for the spots.

Letitia Dowling and the Rev. Dr. Chris A. Murray are challenging current council members Hope Long Weldon, Calvin Odom and Bervay Lee Carter.

Hope Long Weldon

Weldon is an educator, currently consulting with special learners and with due process as law requires. She has been a member of Denmark City Council since April 2009 and is currently enrolled in the Advanced Municipal Elected Officials Institute and is scheduled to graduate this week. She also attended the initial MEO Institute and graduated in 2011.

Educated in the City University of New York school system, she holds a bachelor of science degree in psychology from City College in New York and a master of science degree from Adelphi University in Garden City, Long Island, New York. She taught public school in New York and Atlanta and in Orangeburg Consolidated School District 4.

She stated that working in public education for 30 years has allowed her to develop strategies to improve student learning via developing individual educational plans and communicating via meetings and hearings.

“As a member of Denmark City Council, I was involved in improving the water, the widening and the beautification of the downtown, Denmark Depot and the Lowcountry Crossing Complex. Prior to being elected to Denmark City Council, I held more than four meetings to deal with water concerns in Denmark,” Weldon said.

“I am still committed to working with S.C. DHEC, the EPA, Denmark City Council, Bamberg County Commissioners, Gov. Henry McMaster and other elected officials,” she said.

She said, “I have received contacts from Sen. Tim Scott’s office. I believe the water system needs a total inspection of why our system is affected at this time. Our infrastructure is aged; therefore, a diagnostic assessment is needed. With such an assessment, we will be able to identify areas of concern and not speculate.”

Citing a November 2018 newspaper report, she said, “It was stated that DHEC gave Denmark permission to inject HaloSan into our public water.”

“The article states that DHEC told Denmark officials in 2008 they could use HaloSan. This was prior to my being elected to the council,” she said.

On her involvement with the development of Lowcountry Crossing Complex she said, “Lowcountry Crossing and Development Authority is financed by South Carolina State Housing Finance. Denmark is getting a new complex. It consists of two two-story buildings featuring large apartment homes. There will be 24 bedroom apartments.”

All the units will be open-concept living spaces with energy-efficient windows, along with central heating and air. The complex will be located at the former site Holly Hill Mill, a wood mill, she said.

“The affordable housing is an asset to the citizens of Denmark,” she said. “The officials for Lowcountry Crossing feel the officials for the City of Denmark welcomed them with opened arms. The project is off to a great start.”

Weldon added, “It also important that we work to have our ‘good name’ restored. That is one of the things that I would really like to create, an initiative to work on our image.”

Calvin Odom

Odom has served on council for seven years. He is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, with a degree in English with a business minor. He graduated as a member of the national English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta. While in college, he worked as a tutor and mentor, working with high school and middle school children. Odom has worked as a senior procedure specialist, a GED instructor, a mental retardation specialist, a recreations specialist and an English instructor in his professional employment history. He has worked as a volunteer in various capacities at the Denmark Recreation Center over the past 36 years, and over the last four years, he has served as the center’s chairman.

“As a candidate seven years ago, my campaign slogan was ‘A man who is in touch with the pulse of the community,” and I still think I have made it my main concern to listen to and address the concerns that the people in the Denmark community have presented me over the years, Odom said.

“I came on the city council seven years ago because I had some legitimate concerns in addressing the need for activities for our young people and to provide them with some constructive activities to assist in keeping them healthy and with a chance to grow up safely,” he said.

“As the chairman of the city's recreations committee, we have made continual improvements to enhance our free summer camp for children ages 5 through 17 years old,” he said. “Also, with the assistance of other groups and organizations in the community, we have cleaned up and made improvements to all of our city parks to get them ready for citizens, especially our children, to utilize.”

Odom said he’s made additions and improvements to the city’s recreation department including, adding arts and crafts as well as a breakfast and luncheon feeder program for children participating in the free summer camp.

“Also, as the recreation chairman, I was able to get the city to provide much needed fencing around Cummings Park on Locust Street to provide safety for our youth. I was also able to get

Mrs. Paula Guess to donate the ‘Hill/Ray’ baseball field to the city for our citizens in her father's name, the late Mr. Pete Brooker,” he added.

As a councilman and chairman of the city's Pedestrian Planning Committee in conjunction with DHEC, Odom said he was selected as a PowerPoint presenter at the DHEC Pedestrian Planning Committee's Finale in December.

Odom added, “Although I give a lot of focus to my specialty items as chairman of the recreations committee, I am still a council member that focuses on all of the needs and concerns of the city of Denmark.

“I am a stand-up council member who is not afraid to address all of the concerns that our constituency may have. When I say all, I mean all of them. We as city council members are constantly working on trying to bring jobs to our community and on making improvements to beautify our community,” he said.

Bervay Lee Carter

Carter is a graduate of Voorhees College and South Carolina State University who majored in business education. A retired business education teacher, she taught at Denmark-Olar High School for 23 years. She is the widow of Willie D. Carter, a house-painting contractor, and has five adult children and seven grandchildren. In a statement, she said she fought alongside other council members and Mayor Dr. Gerald Wright to bring an emergency medical center to Denmark. Carter is running on the slogan, “Organized, Experienced and Religious.”

“I am asking that you re-elect me so that I may continue the great work that is already in progress. This is my 13th year with the City Council and I have gained much experience within that time working with two mayors and other council members,” Carter said.

“Please do not assume that I will win without your vote. I ask that you leave nothing to chance about the future of Denmark. Much is at stake. Please get as many voters as you can to go to the polls and vote for a continuation of a positive future for our beloved city, which continues to stand in need of all who care about it,” she said.

Letitia Dowling

Dowling is fourth-generation Bamberg County resident born and raised in Denmark. She is graduate of Denmark-Olar public schools and received a bachelor of arts degree from Coastal Carolina University. She has served in various positions in education in South Carolina, Washington, D.C. and Georgia, working as as an educator, school principal and director of teacher certification and training. Her current work includes strategy and operations with a national grant-making organization. She has two sons and a grandson and is actively involved with her church on the local, district, state and national level.

Dowling said her campaign focuses on solutions and results to redevelop and revitalize the Denmark community.

"As I campaign in the city of Denmark, I encourage citizens with a message of hope and reassurance that we are going to be all right and we have a history of results. We are a community of pride that has always worked together to solve our challenges and move toward,” she said.

“I have shown examples of how working together with local government and state agencies, we can advocate and pursue resources to revitalize and improve many areas of our community. With strong innovative leadership and strategy, we can move forward together. Restoring the trust and maintaining our pride is key priority for my community,” she said.

Rev. Dr. Chris A. Murray

Murray has been senior pastor at The Light of the World Baptist Church for the past decade and a licensed minister for more than 25 years. He has served as city chaplain of Bamberg for four years and was a recipient of the Key to the City for servitude, dedication and outstanding community service to youth and senior citizens, establishing, as he put it, "programs to show the seniors and our youth that we care."

"Servitude is my life and my heart. I am here to help others and to be an advocate and voice for the betterment of people in the city of Denmark,” Murray said.

"I am here for you, service before self. The water issue is primarily what will be rectified. But we have to serve in all aspects of the community and the City of Denmark, not to google information but to be a light to serve others," he said.

He said, "I am a man of integrity and great character, so my duty and goals for this community is to follow the trends of Denmark citizens with diligence and honesty."

Murray said that if the people of Denmark work together and trust in God, they can be a “city of pride” again.

"With that belief and the action of a servant leader to be an advocate and community voice for Denmark citizens, I'm here for you,” he said.

The polls in Tuesday’s election will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. City residents who reside in the East Denmark precinct will vote at the Brooker Center, and those in the West Denmark precinct will vote at the Train Depot.

Voters who are unable to enter their polling place due to physical handicap or are 65 years of age or older may vote in the vehicle in which they drove or were driven to the polls. When notified, election managers will help voters using the curbside voting provision.

Registered electors who cannot vote in person may be eligible to vote by absentee ballot. Persons wishing more information concerning absentee voting should contact the Bamberg County Board of Voter Registration and Elections at 803-245-3028, ext. 2104.

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Contact the writer: rbaxley37@gmail.com.

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