FLORENCE, S.C. — Shortly after 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Florence County Voter Registration and Elections Commission, two supporters of Florence City Councilwoman Teresa Myers Ervin broke into a song, "Change is coming."
As the supporters began to sing, it became increasingly apparent that Myers Ervin was going to win the Democratic nomination for Florence mayor over fellow Florence City Councilman George D. Jebaily.
Myers Ervin unofficially received 2,195 votes, or 55.05%, to Jebaily's 1,792 votes or 44.95%, when the final results were posted at approximately 9:10 p.m. Tuesday on SCVotes.org.
Myers Ervin will face Republican Bryan Braddock in the Nov. 3 general election. The winner will be the 23rd mayor in the history of the city.
If Myers Ervin wins, she would be the first female mayor and the first African American mayor in city history.
"I'm glad that this moment is finally here," Myers Ervin said Tuesday evening. "I was ready for it regardless of what the results was. I just wanted to get to this day and to have an answer.
"I'm happy and thankful because of the people that were with me. I'm especially happy for them, because they've given so much to me. I'm glad it's a success for them."
Myers Ervin added that she was appreciative of the city of Florence for giving her the opportunity.
"What I'm feeling right now is the thankfulness," Myers Ervin said.
Jebaily released a written statement late Tuesday afternoon.
“It has been a long eight months of campaigning, and I extend congratulations to Councilwoman Myers Ervin for the election results,” he said.
“I would like to thank my wonderful wife, children, family and friends who were there with us every step of the way. I would also like to thank my amazing team and all our supporters who believed in our vision of working together to build unity, community progress, social justice, and broad-based economic development to help move Florence Forward.
“Though we did not get the results we wanted in yesterday's runoff, I truly appreciate all the love and support that you have shown. For eight months you labored. For eight months you sacrificed. For eight months you carried our message of committed proven leadership and positive change to the people. And for that, I am and forever will be grateful.
“Our commitment to being of service to our Florence community is not yet complete. We will not stop. We will continue our efforts to better our community through positive engagement and committed community service. Through our efforts, we will show everyone why Florence is such a special place to call home.”
Tuesday's runoff was necessitated because none of the three candidates in the race won 50% of the votes to win the nomination. Myers Ervin and Jebaily received 47.04% and 44.01% of the vote, respectively, to advance to the runoff over Barry McFadden.
Current Florence Mayor Stephen J. Wukela announced on Oct. 10 at the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce membership luncheon that he will not seek a fourth term as mayor. He has served since 2008, when he won the Democratic primary by one vote over Frank Willis.
Myers Ervin represents District 1 on the council. Her district includes most of north Florence and some of west Florence. She was first elected in 2010. She was reelected in 2014 and 2018.
Jebaily has been a member of the Florence City Council since 2014. Jebaily was elected to an at-large seat on the city council in 2014 over Glynn F. Willis. Willis later ran for and was elected to another at-large city council seat in 2016.
There will be at least three new members on the city council after the Nov. 3 election.
If Myers Ervin is elected mayor, a special election would be called to fill her council seat. She was reelected without opposition in 2018.
Only those within the confines of District 1 would vote if Myers Ervin is elected mayor.
If Myers Ervin is elected mayor and a special election is called, the seven-member city council will have three new members and a fourth in a different role once the new member is elected.
If Myers Ervin is not elected mayor, the council will have three new members: the mayor and the at-large council seats that are also on the Nov. 3 ballot.
The candidates in that race are Democrats Lethonia “Peaches” Barnes and Chaquez McCall and Republicans John Sweeney and Steve Byrd.
Barnes and McCall defeated three people, including Willis, in the June 9 primary. The other at-large seat is held by Councilwoman Octavia Williams-Blake, who decided not to seek another term.
If the Democrats running for city council seats win and Myers Ervin is elected mayor, the Florence City Council will be majority African American.