Lexington mayor MacDougall won’t seek another term, considering S.C. Senate bid

When Lexington voters go to the polls to elect their mayor this fall, long-time incumbent Steve MacDougall won’t be on the ballot.

MacDougall told The State on Friday that he won’t be running for another term as the town’s mayor in November, stepping aside after 10 years in Lexington’s top job.

Instead, MacDougall said he is considering running for a seat in the S.C. Senate in 2024, representing a newly drawn district that will include much of the town of Lexington.

“There may be an opportunity in my short future that may have me stepping away,” MacDougall said. “Instead of running again and then have the town go through a special election in less than a year, the right thing to do, not to run for re-election.”

MacDougall has served as Lexington’s mayor since 2013, after he was first elected to the town council in 2011.

Currently the only candidate who has filed to replace MacDougall is Hazel Livingston, a town council member who currently serves as Lexington’s mayor pro tempore. Filing closes at noon on Wednesday. The nonpartisan election is Nov. 7.

MacDougall’s time as mayor has coincided with a period of growth in the town about 12 miles west of Columbia. He oversaw the revitalization of Lexington’s downtown, now bustling with businesses and public amenities like the Icehouse Amphitheater. He also led the response to historic flooding in 2015 that resulted in dam failures at the Old Mill Pond and the town’s Gibson Pond Park.

Most recently, MacDougall attempted to lead the annexation of a planned Smallwood Cover development north of town, which would have added hundreds of homes on the shores of Lake Murray north of town along with a hotel, retail space and a town-owned conference center. The developers ultimately withdrew their request to be annexed into the town after public backlash around the plan.

MacDougall said he expects to make a decision about a potential Senate run early next year, but said he’s always wanted to serve in the chamber since he worked as head of security in the sergeant-at-arms’ office in the 1980s and ‘90s.

The newly drawn Senate district will ensure “We keep the town as the priority, and make sure the future is oh so bright for the hometown I love so much,” MacDougall said. “I grew up when there were 700 people in this town, and I rode my bicycle in a zig-zag down 378, and now there are 40,000 cars a day on that road.

“These are really exciting times for the town,” he said. “We’ve put it back on the path to prosperity and growth, and I’m really honored be there during that time.”

If he leaves the mayor’s office and ultimately does not end up serving as the area’s senator, MacDougall, a restauranteur, says he’ll be alright with that outcome too.

“I’ll go back to being a hardworking young man with one job instead of three,” MacDougall said.