Challengers Lavern Coleman of Bolton and Edward “Big Ed” Johnson of Lake Waccamaw are vying to unseat incumbent P. Edwin Russ of Lake Waccamaw in the March 3 Republican primary for the District 4 seat on the Columbus County Board of Commissioners. District 4 includes parts of Whiteville and much of the eastern area of the county, including parts of Hallsboro, Lake Waccamaw, Bolton, Delco and Riegelwood. The winner of the primary will face Democrat Rickie G. Rouse of Lake Waccamaw in November’s general election. Below are Russ’ responses to questions posed by The News Reporter. Neither Coleman nor Johnson responded to the survey.
P. Edwin Russ
How long have you lived in Columbus County? 65 years
Immediate family members: Emily Worley Russ, wife; Paige Russ Brewer, daughter; Brad Russ, son; three grandchildren, two step-sons Jackson and John Lawson Cook.
Education: Graduated from Hallsboro High School in 1973.
Current elected or appointed office: Columbus County Commissioner District 4 2008-present.
Current occupation: Business owner of Edwin Russ Contract Hauling, LLC and Southern Tire Pros.
Professional experience: I have been an entrepreneur since purchasing my first convenience store at the age of 19 years old. I have owned and operated several successful businesses in Columbus County. I have been successful because I am always trying to improve through strategic planning and being proactive in my businesses.
Why are you running for county commissioner?: I am passionate about Columbus County. I was born and have resided in Columbus County my entire life. I want to ensure that Columbus County thrives with bringing more businesses here. We as a board have been working on several projects that I want to see complete in the next several years. We are in the process of new construction at two county schools and Whiteviille High School. I want to see our school systems improve to be able to better educate our children, provide nicer facilities, and improve safety at the schools. We have seen great improvements to our sheriff’s department through new leadership. They have acquired several million dollars worth of equipment. They have acquired office equipment, computers, etc. which has saved the county money. They are prepared should we have another natural disaster to better provide for the citizens. We have approved the purchase of several trucks which will better suit their fleet than the cars that have been purchased in the past. I will continue to support our sheriff’s office and look forward to seeing continued growth.
Why are you qualified to be a county commissioner?: I have experience as a successful business owner for over 40 years. I have a big heart for helping people and enjoy being a public servant. I have good common sense and know the value of a dollar.
What is the biggest problem facing the county and how would you fix it?: Water and sewer infrastructure is needed for Columbus County to prosper. I would like to see the county apply for grants to get water and sewer across the entire county. Once water and sewer is established, we will see more business and housing developments here in the county.