Two of the three vying for the seats are former mayors who resigned when controversy was high and council members often disagreed as to who should have full authority.
David Leister, 61, served as Nelson mayor from January 2010 to May 2012, then resigned in order to run for Pickens County Tax Commissioner, which he did not win.
Michael Haviland, 72, replaced Leister, but then resigned in May 2013 as a result of the Nelson City Council’s attempts to “remove or transfer” the powers of the office of mayor.
The third candidate is Tina Monaghan, 37, who has lived in Nelson for about a year. The two candidates who receive the most votes will be elected to the vacant seats.
Both Leister and Haviland said now that Nelson has moved toward a strong mayor form of government, they would like to serve on the council.
Leister said he wanted to run because he sees a positive team atmosphere among the council, and he wants to move forward without any controversy in the future.
“I saw that the make-up of the city council and new mayor are very positive. They get along. That was the biggest thing that stood out,” Leister said. “There’s not a lot of in-fighting like there was in the past. It appears they can move forward. I would like to be part of group that can accomplish something good for the city.”
The sitting City Council restored the authorities of hiring, firing and budget preparation to the mayor last month, an action Leister said he fought for when he was mayor. Those authorities, and other various administrative powers also to be restored, were taken away by the town’s council and given to the council and city manager.
“Now that they’ve changed the charter back, they have a team and that’s the biggest thing. The council needs team players,” Leister said. “My goal, if elected, is to work with current council and mayor to make improvements and maintain Nelson.”
Haviland said he’s pleased with the new direction of Mayor Larry Ray and the council members.
“I think they’ve resolved that they want strong mayor form of government, and I’m very pleased with the current mayor and look forward to working with him if I’m elected,” Haviland said.
Monaghan said she moved to the small Cherokee-Pickens town about a year ago, but is familiar with the city’s reputation. She wants to focus her attention on bringing family activities and revitalizing the small town.
“I’m very hands on, and I thought that I needed to step up to the plate and make this small town a great place where my children can grow up,” Monaghan said. “When I was researching Nelson before I moved here, the first thing that came up was the negative situations and dramas that have occurred. I hope that can change. It’s my goal to help the rest of the council and mayor actively turn the city around and make it a positive place to live.”
Since Nelson is in Pickens and Cherokee counties, voters in Cherokee will need to head to Nelson City Hall in order to vote in the special city election, according to Pickens County Board of Elections Supervisor Julianne Roberts.
“The top two candidates who receive the most votes will win the two vacant seats,” Roberts said. “Cherokee voters will have to go to two different polling locations if they’re voting in the county general election and the Nelson special election. Those who want to vote for the Nelson City Council candidates will have to go to Nelson City Hall.”