After 20 years, Sumter will have a new mayor in David Merchant.
The current councilman of Ward 6 defeated the current councilman of Ward 3, Calvin Hastie, with 64.33% of the vote, or 4,117 votes. Hastie received 35.67% of the vote, or 2,283 votes.
The totals are among a pool of about 30,640 registered voters who live in the eligible precincts.
“It feels awesome,” Merchant said at the old Sumter County courthouse Tuesday night. “I can’t wait to get home and see my wife.”
Merchant is a local businessman who ran on the platform of improving Sumterites’ quality of life by growing the city’s manufacturing sector, nurturing its relationship with Shaw Air Force Base and Third Army’s U.S. Army Central and increasing local workforce readiness and opportunity.
He has served Ward 6 since 2008, which covers west of downtown, Swan Lake-Iris Gardens and neighborhoods to the south around Green Swamp, USC Sumter and neighborhoods around Alice Drive up to Wesmark Boulevard.
His Ward 6 seat was up for election this year, but he decided not to run to focus on the mayoral race. Gifford Shaw won that open seat on Nov. 3.
In the general election, Merchant won the historic district and the western half of the city, which encompasses Ward 6. Hastie won the eastern portion of the city, including Ward 3 in south Sumter.
Hastie will remain on Sumter City Council representing Ward 3 because his council seat was not up for election this year.
“I’ve sat next to (Calvin) for eight years. I appreciate the way he has run his campaign. All the candidates. We had a good, clean campaign. It never got nasty,” Merchant said of his challengers. “It’s a testament to the people of Sumter to keep things moving in a positive direction.”
He said he is looking forward to working with council to “move Sumter forward.”
Merchant and other elected candidates for Sumter City Council will be sworn in on Nov. 30. The new council will meet for the first time on Dec. 1.
As the results continued to come in Tuesday, city staff arrived to the courthouse, where votes were being posted.
Merchant said he has “big, huge shoes” to fill of Joe McElveen, the city’s longest-serving mayor who decided not to run for reelection at the beginning of the year. When Merchant announced his candidacy, he said he would never run against McElveen, waiting his turn to earn the votes to lead Sumter.
“I’m not going to let him go too far,” he said.
He thanked his wife and four children and his friends and campaign backers for their support.
All results are from Sumter County Voter Registration and Election and are unofficial until the county election commission certifies totals later this week.