Yemassee: One town, two counties. Winning a council seat only takes 120 votes

If you want to be a town council member in Yemassee, all it takes is 120 voters to mark their ballots with your name.

Thursday night, the town finalized the results of its November 2023 elections for two open town council seats.

Yemassee, famous for its train station that has delivered generations of new Marines to Parris Island, straddles both Beaufort and Hampton Counties. It has three voting precincts for its 1,000 citizens who are spread over 4.5 square miles.

During World War II alone, more than 250,000 Marine recruits arrived on the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad to the iconic train station to begin their military service. According to the Marine’s history pages, between 1915 and 1965, more than 500,000 recruits passed through the train station in its 50 years as the last stop before training.

Today, Yemassee sits adjacent to one of the East Coast’s fastest-growing areas of Bluffton and Beaufort County. In the coming years, the town will likely face similar growing-pains as Bluffton.

On Tuesday, voters went to the polls and selected Richie Hagan and Daniel Anderson to represent the community on its town council.

Hagan was the leading vote-getter, with 133 total. He captured 131 votes from Hampton County, and two votes from Beaufort County. Daniel Anderson had two votes in Beaufort County and 118 votes in Hampton County, for a total of 120. Both candidates narrowly edged out Peggy Bing-O’Banner’s 86 votes.

Town Administrator, and secretary to the Official Election Commission, Matthew Garnes, explained that Beaufort county numbers are usually lower than Hampton county’s.

Hagan, a recently retired CSX employee owns businesses in the Yemassee area, he said his decision to run for council was based on his family’s and the town’s future.

“We’ve raised our kids here, and now raising our grand-kids here, so the future of Yemassee is real important to me,” he said. “We have deep roots in Yemassee and we want to continue to have that.”

Hagan says he hopes to, “make the critical decisions to help with growth,” potentially bringing other businesses to the area.

“More revenue would give the citizens something locally so they don’t have to go 20 miles away,” he added.

Hagan also expressed gratitude for those who helped with his campaign and said he looks forward to serving the citizens of Yemassee.

“I am going to work for everybody. Not just the people who supported and voted for me,” Hagan said.

Daniel Anderson, a graduate of Wade-Hampton High School, was a council member from 2013-2017 before he was again elected to a town council seat this week. He previously made a run for mayor of Yemassee but lost and decided to run for council again for two reasons: “I felt like I had some unfinished business with the town and a lot of citizens approached me to run again.”

Anderson echoed Hagan’s vision for Yemassee to grow. He specifically pointed out that Yemassee’s senior population has to travel to Beaufort, Hampton, Walterboro or Savannah for medical needs.

“I would like to see a grocery store with a pharmacy and perhaps a medical center,” Anderson said.