LAKE WYLIE — Incumbent Bruce Henderson had a distinct advantage over challenger John Rinehart in the race for York County Council’s District 2 seat. As Henderson looks forward to another term, election numbers show that advantage played an important but not critical role in his reelection.
“I’m very flattered and very honored,” said Henderson, calling Rinehart a “worthy opponent” in the contest. “I would’ve thought it would’ve been closer.”
Henderson defeated Rinehart on election night with more than 72 percent of the vote. Early, unofficial results showed a margin of almost 6,000 votes, well beyond the straight party factor. Both men signed on to run as Republicans, though Rinehart ended up on the ballot as an independent.
During the filing season, candidates statewide were removed from ballots due to deadline errors with financial intent forms.
Rinehart’s removal meant he could only face Henderson in the general election as a petition candidate rather than in the summer Republican primary. That means any straight party Republican tickets last week in the Dist. 2 precincts would automatically cast a vote for Henderson.
“The campaign from the beginning, having to run as a petition candidate, has been a real challenge,” Rinehart said on election night. “The best way to run, obviously, is to run as your party’s candidate.”
For his part, Henderson pushed voters to vote straight party, something he admits probably added “a little gas to the fire.”
“We did ask a lot of people to vote straight ticket,” Henderson said Thursday.
But those votes, alone, weren’t the deciding factor.
Dist. 2 includes part or all of 14 precincts. In total, those precincts registered 4,737 straight party Republican votes. So even if all those votes went to Henderson -- they didn’t, due to the partial districts — he’d still have enough non-straight party votes to win.
The impact of party affiliation on non-straight party voting may be impossible to calculate. But there was a trend. Three petition candidates ran for seats on the seven-member Council against major party opponents. All lost.
The task now isn’t to linger over votes, but to resume advocating for issues specific to Lake Wylie. Council will take a look at comprehensive land use after another public planning meeting last week. They’ll revisit and consolidate code standards for commercial and residential property.
Henderson wants to look at groups asking for money along Lake Wylie highways. He doesn’t expect this largely holdover Council to allow any changes on commercial color requirements, having recently voted down an ordinance he introduced at the request of citizens. He doesn’t know if something like incorporation might arise in response to local control issues like that one.
As Lake Wylie’s lone Council member, Henderson said it’s a bit like being an entire town council in one person. But he’s committed to listening to and conveying concerns.
“That’s basically what I’ve had to do, and obviously I’ve done a pretty decent job,” he said.
Beyond just Lake Wylie, Henderson is most concerned with economic growth. A down economy is what’s kept a Crowders Creek area park from being completed.
“I’m still committed to that,” he said. “I’m not certain how to get to that goal.”
Other issues his economic hurdles, too. Henderson’s goal is to see unemployment drop below 5 percent to where anyone without a job is unemployed by choice.
“The challenge is still the economy,” he said. “When we came on, unemployment in York County was something like 16 percent. Now currently it’s below 9 percent. We’ve done something right in that category, but we still have a ways to go.”
The Herald contributed to this story.