Bob MontgomeryHerald-Journal

Three men and three women are seeking to win a special election to fill Roger Nutt’s vacated District 6 seat on Spartanburg County Council.

Five of the hopefuls are Republicans, and one is Democrat.

The seat became vacant last month when Nutt resigned to be sworn into his state legislative seat. Nutt, a Republican, was unopposed in his election to fill the seat of outgoing District 34 Republican state Rep. Mike Forrester.

Filing for Nutt’s seat on county council are Republicans Steve Wunder, Michael Dawson, Jessica Coker, Robert Briggs, and Karen Puckett.

Lekesa Whitner

Lekesa Kesha Whitner was the lone Democrat to file, and thus will not be on the primary ballot. She will appear on the March 23 special election ballot, according to Spartanburg County Elections Director Henry Laye.

The primary will be held on Jan. 19. A runoff, if needed, will be on Feb. 2. 

Laye said South Carolina has an open primary process, meaning “a voter may vote in a different party in the primary if there is no candidate for the party of their initial choice.

District 6 covers a large area west of Spartanburg and includes 38,310 voters in 25 precincts.

Three women file 

Coker is among three women running. The last woman to serve on county council was Jane Hall, who lost a re-election bid in 2016 to Whitney Farr. 

The Herald-Journal reached out to each candidate and asked them why they are running. Here are the answers of those who responded:

Jessica Coker

Coker is a certified public accountant who lives in Roebuck.

“Spartanburg County needs a CPA on council, and I truly feel called to serve my neighbors and my county,” she said. “As a conservative Republican, a mother, a small business owner, and a CPA helping small businesses in our area, I know how important economic growth and good jobs are to our economy. I know how to support our small business needs and how important access to quality education is to our workforce.”

Dawson, of Duncan, is a real estate professional.

Michael Dawson

“I am running to represent the families and businesses that live, work, and play in the same district I have called home for over 20 years,” he said. “I want to ensure we have the proper infrastructure in place to accommodate future new businesses all while making sure the funds are spent efficiently as possible.

“I also want to make sure that our public service providers have the tools and resources they need to keep our citizens safe.”

Whitner ran for mayor

Whitner, a Democrat from Spartanburg, ran for mayor of Spartanburg in 2017. She finished third in voting behind Mayor Junie White and challenger Todd Horne.

She has served on the boards of Forrester Center for Behavioral Health, Children and Choices and has worked with the Northside Development Group and the OneSpartanburg, Inc., vision plan advisory group.

She is currently support services manager at Northside Development Group and is an adjunct professor at Spartanburg Community College.

“I’m running for Spartanburg County Council because Spartanburg is in a different climate,” she said. “We are in a time when all voices need to be heard. Looking through the lens of equity and empathy, we must have the willingness to help all people.”

Karen Puckett

Puckett, of Moore, is a teaching assistant at Berry Shoals Intermediate School.

“The number one reason is that I want to transcend narrow interests for the greater good of the county,” she said. “My background as a retired reporter and editor with more than 25 years in the newspaper and magazine industry will help me achieve just that.

“As a journalist and now a teacher’s assistant, I have developed a unique perspective of what’s going on in Spartanburg County, particularly in District 6.”

Briggs resides in Moore and did not respond.

Wunder, of Duncan, is a licensed commercial real estate broker with NAI Earle Furman in Spartanburg.

Stephen Wunder

“I am running in order to contribute to the solutions for challenges we as a county face with the continued successful growth in the county,” he said. “I have and continue to serve the community in different areas. This has allowed me to gain a greater understanding of the needs of the community.

“I view this open seat on county council as a more direct avenue to serve, specifically to address the infrastructure needs of the growth in our county. This growth affects all aspects of the quality of life of the county from public utilities, public safety, and our school systems.”