BEAUFORT COUNTY POLITICS An Overview
Statewide Elected Offices include:
Secretary of State
Superintendent of Education
The General Assembly consists of a Senate of 46 members, elected for four-year terms, and a House of Representatives of 124 members, elected for two-year terms. Legislative sessions are held biennially (lasting two years, occurring every two years) beginning in January. South Carolina has been governed by a strong legislature with the Governor having limited power.
The next US Senate election in South Carolina will be held on November 8, 2022; the seat is currently held by Tim Scott (R-SC).
There are currently seven (7) United States Congressional Districts in South Carolina, six of which are held by Republicans and one of which is held by Democrats.
All of Beaufort County is currently in the 1st Congressional District as well as the Jasper County precincts of Sun City and Okatie 2, and stretches along the eastern coast of South Carolina including most of the sea islands up to McClellanville and west to encompass Berkley county with a small portion of Dorchester County.
State Legislative Delegation
Following the 2018 elections, South Carolina is one of 25 Republican state government trifectas, meaning that the Republican Party controls the governorship, the State Senate, and the House of Representatives.
The South Carolina Senate is the upper house of the South Carolina General Assembly (or Legislature). It consists of 46 Senators, elected from single-member districts for four-year terms at the same time as the United States Presidential Elections. Each member represents an average of 110,000 residents. There are no term limits for the Senators. As of 2017, there are 28 Republicans and 18 Democrats serving in the SC Senate. All Seats are up for re-election in 2024.
There are 3 South Carolina Senate seats that include portions of Beaufort County:
District 43 – George Campsen (R)
-Includes most of northern Beaufort except for the western portion of the County.
District 45 – Margie Bright Matthews (D)
-Includes the northeast portion of Beaufort County.
District 46 – Thomas C. Davis (R)
-Includes all of Hilton Head, Bluffton and Jasper County precincts of Sun City and Okatie 2.
Map of South Carolina State Senate Districts
House of Representatives:
The South Carolina House of Representatives is the lower house of the South Carolina Assembly. It consists of 124 Representatives, elected to serve two-year terms at the same time as the Congressional elections. Each member represents an average of 37,301 residents as of the 2010 Census. 78 Members of the House are Republicans and 42 are Democratic with 4 vacancies. There are no term limits for this position. All the seats are up for re-election in 2022.
There are six State Representative Districts that intersect with Beaufort County:
State Representative 118 – William G. “Bill” Herbkersman (R)
-Portions of Beaufort and Jasper Counties
Map of District 118
State Representative 120 – William Weston J. Newton (R)
-Portions of Beaufort and Jasper Counties
Map of District 120
State Representative 121 – Michael Rivers, Sr. (D)
-Portions of Beaufort and Colleton Counties
Map of District 121
State Representative 122 – Shedron Williams (D)
-Portions of Beaufort, Hampton, and Jasper Counties
Map of District 122
State Representative 123 – Jeffrey A. “Jeff” Bradley (R)
-Portions of Beaufort County
Map of District 123
State Representative 124 – Shannon S. Erickson (R)
-Portions of Beaufort County
Map of District 124
Local Politics - Counties
South Carolina has 46 counties, 270 municipal governments, 90 public school districts, and 301 special districts of various types. Ten regional councils provide a broad range of technical and advisory services to county and municipal governments. Under legislation enacted in 1975, all counties and municipalities have the same powers, regardless of size. Most municipalities operate under the mayor-council or city manager system; more than half the counties have a county administrator or manager. Each county has a council or commission, attorney, auditor, clerk of court, coroner, tax collector, treasurer, and sheriff. Many of these county officials are elected.
In 1975, South Carolina passed the Home Rule Act, because many state legislators districts crossed county lines. The Home Rule Act created county councils for each of the SC counties that are independent of the SC General Assembly. Legally, the county is a creation of state government. Counties have only those powers and duties authorized by the laws which affect all counties, or by specific statutes that affect individual counties.
As of the 2010 Census, the population of Beaufort totaled 162,233 (48 percent male/52 percent female). The country seat is the town of Beaufort. Beaufort County is considered part of the Hilton Head-Bluffton-Beaufort Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is one of the South’s fastest-growing counties, primarily due to development along the 278 (Highway) corridor. There is also a strong federal military presence around the city of Beaufort. The county is divided into two and connected by the Broad River Bridge – creating “north of Broad” and “south of Broad” distinctions. The County is 75 percent, White, 19 percent Black, 1.8 percent Asian, and 7 percent Hispanic. The median household income in 2015 was $56,079. Beaufort County is made up of 24 islands, 9 unincorporated communities, and 4 towns,
The county of Beaufort is run by a County Council comprised of 11 Districts. County council members are partisan and serve four-year terms. Beaufort County operates under the Council-Administrator form of government. Under this form of government, the Council may hire a professional administrator to carry out Council policy. The Council has the power to dismiss the appointed administrator, although it cannot dismiss employees hired by the administrator. Under this form of government, the County Treasurer and County Auditor are elected officials. In addition to the Treasurer and County Auditor, there are five additional elected offices in the County of Beaufort:
*Clerk of the Court
*14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office
Map of County Council Districts
Board of Education:
The Beaufort County Board of Education is a nonpartisan board that consists of 11 members elected to four-year terms. They serve staggered terms and each member represents a specific geographic district. It is the 10th largest school district in South Carolina and serves over 21,000 students. The United States Census Bureau found that 38.8 percent of county residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to 25.8 percent of state residents. The median household income in the county was $57,048, compared to $45,483 for the entire state. County residents lived below the poverty level at a rate of 12.9 percent, while that rate was 15.3 percent for all state residents. There are a total of 30 schools in the District.
School District Map
Other: There are 7 elected members of the PSD Board of Commissioners, elected to four-year terms from four separate voting districts within the PSD service area.
Map of Public Service Districts
The Beaufort Soil and Water Conservation District includes three elected Commissioners (and 2 appointed Commissioners). The elected Commissioners are elected during the Federal election cycle and are non-partisan positions.
Local Politics - Towns
Beaufort is a city in Beaufort County and the capital of the county seat. The city is governed by a 5-member-at-large council, including the Mayor.
Bluffton is a town in Beaufort County. The town's original one square mile area, now known as Old Town, is situated on a bluff along the May River. Bluffton is the fastest-growing municipality in South Carolina with a population over 2,500, growing 882.7% between the 2000 and 2010 census. Bluffton is the fifth largest municipality in South Carolina by land area. There are five elected position in Bluffton consisting of a Mayor and four Town Council members. They are nonpartisan and serve four-year terms elected in November of odd years.
Hilton Head Island is a town and barrier island in Beaufort County. The year-round population was 37,099 at the 2010 census, although during the peak of summer vacation season the population can swell to 150,000. Over the past decade, the island's population growth rate was 32%. There are seven nonpartisan elected positions governing Hilton Head, including a Mayor and six Town Council positions. They serve four-year staggered terms and are elected within the Congressional election schedule. In addition, there are seven elected members of the Public Service District governing water resources in the middle part of the Island. They serve four-year staggered terms and are elected within the Congressional election schedule.
Daufuskie Island is located between Hilton Head Island and Savannah and is the southernmost inhabited sea island in South Carolina. It is 5 miles long by almost 2.5 miles wide. It has a full-time population of 648 people. The Daufuskie Island Council serves as the official voice between Daufuskie and the County. Members are elected by island residents and property owners. There are nine elected positions that serve four-year staggered terms. Elections are held yearly on the second Saturday in February.
Port Royal is a town governed by a 5-member at large town council including the Mayor.