Meet county council district 3 incumbent Benton Blakely
by Laura Stone | June 8, 2018 11:23 am
Last Updated: June 8, 2018 at 11:37 am
District 3 County Councilman Benton Blakely has lived in New Zion his entire life and has attended New Zion Methodist Church since birth. His daughter has recently moved back to the area with her children, because they wish to go to what Blakely calls “the best school in the state,” Walker Gamble Elementary.
Blakely graduated from East Clarendon High School in 1964, leaving the day after graduation to go to Gardner-Webb College (now University) in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. After two and a half years there, Blakely intended to transfer to Georgia Southern University to pursue a bachelor’s degree. However, he was drafted before he could make the transfer.
Blakely had recently married, so when he was offered a position with the National Guard in Manning during his time in the military, he leapt at the opportunity. He stayed with the National Guard for 25 years.
During that time, Blakely began working for Santee Electric Cooperative, Inc., where he worked in the purchasing department. He worked on purchasing and warehouse and inventory control, retiring on May 30 after 52 years with the company.
Blakely was elected to the Clarendon County District 3 School Board in 1981, leaving that position after 18 years when he was first elected to County Council in 1999. He has also served on the Council of Governments for 18 years, is a member of the Ruritan Club and is a member of the Volunteer Fire Department. Throughout all of this, Blakely has farmed for the last 50 years.
While on the School Board, Blakely was involved in a lawsuit against the state, which addressed the extreme poverty in the District 3 school system. Although it has taken 22 years, this past year, the case was settled, and District 3 received $1.4 Million for the schools.
Also during his time with the School Board, Blakely fought school district consolidation and continued this fight through his time on County Council.
During his more than 18 years on the County Council, Blakely has been instrumental in the creation of the I-95 Mega Site, as well as ensuring it was provided with power and water. He also fought to ensure the Williamsburg County Landfill was not placed near the northern part of Clarendon County, thereby protecting local produce farmers.
Blakely worked hard with the County Council to get deteriorated roads paved throughout the county, and he was instrumental in obtaining water for the Horse Branch community.
“I go to so many meetings. I’m there representing people, learning what is going on so I can make good decisions,” said Blakely. With a goal to build better relationships within the districts, he has attended town council and school board meetings in every district, and he has attended the Soil & Water and Development board meetings.
Blakely feels his strong will and determination will continue to serve him if elected again. He has dedicated his service to the betterment for his district and for Clarendon County as a whole.
“I was a renegade and a maverick. I fought for my people. That’s what I did all the time,” said Blakely. I’m for the people. I’ve served hard and I’ve served long. No one in this state serves their people better than I do. I’ve fought for them, and I will continue to fight.”
Blakely feels his ability to listen to the people, to understand their needs, has served him well. He doesn’t work with the County Council only for himself. He strives to have public backing when presenting something to the Council for consideration, knowing his constituents feel he will “take care of business.”
If re-elected, Blakely will continue to push for water to be run to the entire county. He will also continue pursuing attracting businesses to the I-95 Mega Site and the Manning Industrial Park. He feels this will offer opportunities for the younger generation in Clarendon County, providing the option to stay in Clarendon and still support a family.
“I see us as having a great future,” said Blakely.