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He’s back again: Rhodes wins Myrtle Beach mayor race

November 18, 2009

He’s back again: Rhodes wins Myrtle Beach mayor race

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A hotly contested race for Myrtle Beach’s top political spot has ended Tuesday night, as residents elected incumbent John Rhodes to an additional four years in office.

Rhodes edged out former Myrtle Beach mayor Mark McBride in his re-election campaign in a 2,649 to 2,157 decision. Approximately 34.5 percent of eligible voters turned out at the polls Tuesday.

Click here for all election results.

“It was one of the most important elections for the City of Myrtle Beach – or in history – because of what it meant,” said Rhodes just minutes after being reelected. “People were voting on who they wanted to be their leader, and that’s why it’s so important. They wanted to put Myrtle Beach in the hands of someone they felt could carry us forward and bring us to the next level.”

A run-off election was declared between the two by the Horry County Election Commission after neither candidate successfully secured 50 percent of votes during the city’s original mayoral election on Nov. 3. Exit poll numbers revealed Rhodes received 2,540 votes, while McBride was awarded 1,472.

Officials with the Horry County Election Commission say Rhodes was 155 votes away from being re-elected to another four years in office on Nov. 3. A mayoral candidate needs more than 2,695 votes to be successfully elected.

Tuesday’s decision puts an end to a heated campaigning season packed with controversy and finger pointing.

“[McBride] is great for fantasizing and coming up with all of these little innuendos to try to stir up trouble,” Rhodes said in a post-election interview with WMBF News on Nov. 3. “That is what [McBride] is famous for – causing a stir – but he can never ever have a solution to the problem.”

However, while what many call ‘dirty politics’ were put into motion throughout the mayoral campaigns, both McBride and Rhodes say they had no personal part in the negativity against each other.

“It’s just low life and that’s not what it’s about,” McBride said. “It’s about jobs. It’s about the tax, and it’s about bringing visitors [here]. We need to put all this garbage behind us and move the city forward.”

“We’ve thought positive. We’ve looked positive,” Rhodes said, “and if you’re negative, I’m sorry for you because you don’t get things accomplished.”

Tough issues at hand for both Rhodes and McBride throughout the multi-month campaign included new ordinances aimed at curbing the city’s annual bike rallies and a 1 percent ad tax.

Rhodes and members of the Myrtle Beach City Council went up against the grain in 2008 after putting forth a set of ordinances that would tame the area’s two bike rallies scheduled throughout May. The mayor came under harsh fire by a number of residents and businesses after many biker groups boycotted Myrtle Beach’s 2009 rallies.

Defending his decision to enact the ordinances, Rhodes says he was acting in the best interest of area residents.

“Bikers are welcomed here, as long as they abide by our ordinances,” he announced. “We made decisions we felt were good for the quality of life of our citizens.”

However, now that he has been reelected to another four years in office, Rhodes is urging any resident who has issues with his recent decisions to come forward. Rhodes says he welcomes any resident to drive down to the Myrtle Beach City Hall and knock on his door to voice their opinion.

“Don’t be silent,” he challenged. “Let your voice be heard.”

Rhodes has been serving the City of Myrtle Beach for the last four years, after taking over office for McBride. Rhodes says looking back over the span of the last four years, he’s most excited about the relationships he has built with delegates to move important projects forward.

Some of the most distinguished projects of his mayoral career in Myrtle Beach, Rhodes says, is the construction of Market Common and Grand Park, the renovation of the Crabtree Gym, along with luring funds to the area for necessary projects such as beach renourishment.

“To be the mayor of a city this size and this magnitude that is the 40 percent giver of the No. 1 industry in this state, you couldn’t ask for any better political position,” he said.

Rhodes says following Tuesday’s reelection, he plans to push forward with plans for the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and the Furman Arts Center, to be constructed at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

Rhodes’ win will be certified by the Myrtle Beach Election Commission at 10 a.m. Thursday at City Hall.

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