BEAUFORT, S.C. (Aug. 20, 2020) – Two candidates have filed to run for mayor of the City of Beaufort, and six candidates have filed to run for two open City Council seats. Neither Mayor Billy Keyserling nor Councilwoman Nan Sutton is running for re-election. Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Mike McFee is seeking another term. Terms of office are for four years. The election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 3.
The candidates are listed in alphabetical order.
Stephen Murray: Murray, 39, is currently on City Council, having been elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2018. He is a native of Beaufort and a graduate of Beaufort High School. He attended the University of South Carolina Beaufort. He owns two Beaufort-based businesses, Kazoobie Kazoos and New South Shirts. Murray is a graduate of Leadership Beaufort, Leadership South Carolina and the Riley Center for Diversity. He is also a graduate of the Municipal Association of South Carolina Elected Officials Advanced Institute. He is past chair of the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce. Murray was founding chairman and is a board member of the Beaufort County Economic Development Corporation. He helped establish and is on the board of the Beaufort Digital Center. He is vice chairman of the South Coast Cyber Center. He and his wife, Melissa, have twin daughters.
Mike Sutton: Sutton, 62, owns Sutton Construction, a historic restoration company in Beaufort. He retired from the Coast Guard in 1998 with a background in marine engineering and environmental emergency response, and has been a first responder in marine environmental emergencies. Sutton graduated from Beaufort High School, and attended Massachusetts Maritime Academy and Texas A&M. He graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy and was a Beaufort County sheriff’s deputy. Sutton served two consecutive terms on City Council, from 2006-2014. He has been on various boards including the Historic Review Board, Beaufort Redevelopment Commission, and Beaufort Merchants Association. He is married to Councilwoman Nan Sutton.
City Council candidates
Scott Allen Gibbs: Gibbs, 62, is a native of Beaufort. He has a Bachelor of Science from South Carolina State University, where he studied business administration. He retired from the Beaufort County Department of Social Services after 33 years, where he worked as a benefits integrity claims specialist. Gibbs is a member of the Mt. Sinai Baptist Church, where he is treasurer and director of the church choir. His various associations include Fellowship Concert Choir, Carae’s Lowcountry Modeling, Gospel Friends of Beaufort, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the Original Gullah Festival of South Carolina, and the March of Dimes. He is president of the Beaufort County State Employees Association, and vice chairman of the Beaufort Arts Council. He has been honored by the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity with its Living Legend Award.
Mary Harvey: Harvey, 77, is a native of Philadelphia, and attended Temple University. She also studied architectural design and interior design at Spring Garden College in Pennsylvania. As a full-time homemaker, she raised five children. She worked as a designer and space-planner for her husband’s construction and remodeling business in Woodstown, N.J. In New Jersey, she was a deacon in her Presbyterian church, and established the Salem County Family Promise Program. Harvey and her husband retired to Beaufort, and have restored their home in Old Commons. She and her husband have five children and 10 grandchildren.
Neil Lipsitz: Lipsitz, 61, is a lifelong Beaufort resident. He graduated from Beaufort High School, and has a Bachelor of Science from USC-Coastal Carolina University, where he studied management and real estate. He worked in his family’s department store – the Lipsitz Department Store -- which closed in 2009 after more than 100 years of operation. Lipsitz owned a shoe store on Bay Street, and also worked in real estate. Lipsitz has been a docent at the Beaufort History Museum, and was a member of the Beaufort County Tax Equalization Board. He is the secretary of the South Carolina Board of Nursing. He and his wife, Michele, have an adult son, Adam.
Mike McFee: McFee, 61, has served on City Council since 2008, and is currently mayor pro tem. He graduated from Beaufort High School and has a Bachelor of Science from University of South Carolina, where he studied biology and business. McFee’s mother’s family has been in Beaufort for generations. His father was a Navy medical officer, and the family moved extensively while McFee grew up. He spent summers in Beaufort with his mom’s family. McFee began his career with the Bank of Beaufort, eventually becoming a real estate broker. He joined Home Town Realty with Pat Harvey-Palmer in 1991. McFee served on the USCB Small Business Advisory Commission, is past chairman of Palmetto Chapter of the American Red Cross, and is currently vice chair of the board of the Alzheimer’s Family Services of Greater Beaufort. He previously served on the Tourism Management Advisory Commission, Waterways Commission and is past president of Greater Beaufort Chamber of Commerce.
Harold ‘Mitch’ Mitchell: Mitchell, 70, grew up in Sheldon Township, and graduated from Robert Smalls High School. He has a Bachelor of Science from South Carolina State University. Mitchell is a retired Air Force major general and retired airline pilot. His military career spanned 39 years, active and in the reserves. He was deputy inspector general of the Air Force, and commanded at the squadron, wing, numbered Air Force, and joint command levels. He was a commercial pilot for two airlines, and retired from Alaska Airlines in 2014. He is a member of the Beaufort County Planning Commission, and has served on the boards of the Beaufort History Museum and Penn Center. His military affiliations include Tuskegee Airman Inc. and the Montfort Point Marines. He and his wife, Kelly, have three sons and five grandchildren.
Brantley Wilson: Wilson, 32, is a lifelong Beaufort resident. He was homeschooled, and completed dual credit courses at Technical College of the Lowcountry while still in high school. He earned a Bachelor of Science from University of South Carolina Beaufort, where he studied business administration, and has a Master of Education from the American College of Education. He is a graduate of the Beaufort County School District’s Leadership Institute. He served for 12 years as a business and STEM teacher at Beaufort-Jasper Academy for Career Excellence. Since 2018, Wilson has been assistant principal at Hilton Head Island Middle School, where he supervises the sixth grade, and has other responsibilities. Previously, he was a volunteer firefighter with City of Beaufort/Town of Port Royal Fire Department, and an emergency medical responder. He and his wife, Deborah, have three children.