ATLANTIC BEACH, SC (WBTW) – In a stunning turn of events Friday, Atlantic Beach Town Council voted to disband the Atlantic Beach Election Commission, even as the town’s mayoral race is undecided.
Following an hours-long vote certification process on Thursday that did not result in a decision on who would be the town’s next mayor, the town’s election commission held another meeting at 10 a.m. Friday for a recount of approximately 130 votes.
After the meeting got underway, incumbent Mayor Jake Evans expressed a concern about why there was no state-employed court reporter present, while there had been one present on Thursday.
After adjourning to address the issue and then going into executive session, which is closed to the public and media, Election Commission Chairman Joe Montgomery said he personally didn’t think there needed to be a court reporter present. He said he believed they only needed a secretary present, which they had, but he wanted to make sure he was doing everything the “right way”.
A court reporter was then requested. However, the court reporter wasn’t available until 2 p.m. Friday so the morning meeting was adjourned and the plan was to resume the recount at 2 p.m.
However, shortly after the morning meeting ended, the Atlantic Beach Town Council suddenly announced there would be an emergency council meeting at 12:30 p.m. At that emergency meeting, town council voted to disband the election commission.
Among those on council are Jacqui Gore, who just won re-election as a result of vote certification on Thursday, and Josephine Isom, who’s in the still-undecided mayoral race.
News13’s Jackie LiBrizzi has been in Atlantic Beach covering the developments on Thursday and Friday. She spoke to Montgomery shortly after the election commission was disbanded. He says this isn’t fair to the citizens of Atlantic Beach.
“We were supposed to carry out the election today,” Montgomery told News13. “They shouldn’t have interfered at all. They appointed me to run the election. But they interfered with my operation, so they ultimately relieved me…”
News13 has reached out to Atlantic Beach and state officials to ask about the legality of the town council’s emergency meeting and vote to disband the commission.
It’s also not clear how the mayoral race will be decided or when.
Count on News13 for updates.