City council candidates: VanWinkle hopes to be ‘change Myrtle Beach needs’ as he runs for election


MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Keith VanWinkle is a Conway native, and a graduate of both Conway High School and Horry Georgetown Technical College.

VanWinkle said he works for a medical logistics company and has lived off 13th Avenue South in Myrtle Beach since 2008. He’s the former vice chairman of the Bridgewater Academy School Board, and is a parishioner of St. Andrew Catholic Church.

In 2008, VanWinkle ran for Horry County Council in 2008. He then sought election to the Myrtle Beach City Council in 2013, and is now seeking election again.

“I’m a man of character and integrity. I care about the community I grew up in,” VanWinkle said. “I love this beach. This beach has given me so much, from a child til now. I’m almost 40 years old and I want to give back to the community that’s given so much to me. I don’t want to see my childhood memories, and so many other people’s memories, ripped away by not preserving and protecting the quality of life that we all grew up with.”

VanWinkle on redevelopment:

He wants to drive more foot traffic to Myrtle Beach. VanWinkle thinks he can help to do so if the downtown business community is cleaned up and improved.

VanWinkle is for development initiatives and believes if the area is freshened up, more innovative businesses will come in and attract locals and visitors.

“I would stop the abuse of power by city government to go in there and force people to sell through eminent domain,” he said. “I mean that’s just absurd. That’s government theft and that’s big government that abuses their powers, and nobody ever should ever feel threatened by having to sell their property. That’s just an abuse of government, that’s No. 1. No. 2, I support economic growth and development and the redevelopment of the downtown, but I think we have to do it wisely, OK. We have a south end with areas that need to be cleaned up.”

Related stances:

  • Stop eminent domain
  • Improve business community and safety
  • Business should be private sector only
  • Support giving 100 percent of the 20 percent tourism development fee allowed for the tourism development fee legislation to Residents for Property Tax Relief
  • Clean up older neighborhoods through strict code enforcement
  • Supports public parking
  • Long-term beach renourishment funding solution

VanWinkle on public safety:

VanWinkle said public safety is the cornerstone of his campaign.

He said police officer salaries need to be raised and that the department isn’t growing up to speed because officers who’d like to move here can’t afford it under the current salary.

According to VanWinkle, the public safety shortage is not a budget problem, but a management one.

“The course they’ve taken is not working. Our city faced the worst shooting in its history over Father’s Day. It’s not working, we don’t have enough police officers to maintain,” he said. “I support putting on … we’re 56 police officers short as of right now. The question you have to ask yourself is why is that. Well, they’re not paid very well. Well, if you’re not paid very well, why would you want to become a police officer?”

Related stances:

  • Supports using existing tourist paid 65 percent accommodations tax dollars to provide additional funding for public safety and first responders. No need to raise taxes for this initiative.
  • Adding 100 more police officers
  • Raise police salaries

For VanWinkle’s full answers to the questions, watch the clips above.

This is the ninth of WMBF News’ profiles of Myrtle Beach City Council candidates. The series began Oct. 16, and will run nine days, with the last candidate being profiled Oct. 26. WMBF News will will ask the same three questions to each. Those questions are about re-development, public safety and why he or she should be chosen for city council.

Here are the air dates for each candidate:

  • Oct. 16: Ann Dunham
  • Oct. 17: Matthew Hardee
  • Oct. 18 Mike Hobeika
  • Oct. 19 Mike Lowder (incumbent)
  • Oct. 20 Brooks Myers
  • Oct. 23 Gregg Smith
  • Oct 24 Randal Wallace (incumbent)
  • Oct 25 Jackie Vereen
  • Oct 26 Keith VanWinkle

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