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Greenville mayor primary election ahead. What to know, where to vote.

Apr 26, 2023

Republicans Joe Farmer and incumbent Knox White are on the ballot in the June 13 mayoral primary election for the city of Greenville.

The winner will go on to the General Election in November to face Democrat Michelle Shain, who does not have an opponent, and potential Independent candidate Paula Fulghum, who is hoping to enter the election via petition.

Three other councilmembers are also up for election this year, as well as the commissioner of public works. Democrat councilmember at-large Dorothy Dowe will face newcomer Randall Fowler, a Republican, while incumbents John DeWorken and Ken Gibson are running unopposed. Incumbent Phillip Kilgore is running again for water commissioner.

Here's what you need to know about the mayoral candidates, the election process, and how and where you can vote:

The city of Greenville is one of the few municipalities in the state to have partisan elections, meaning candidates file as a Republican, Democrat or another political party. Farmer and White are both Republicans, meaning they will first run against each other before the candidate who wins progresses to Election Day, Nov. 7.

You don't have to be a Republican to vote. This is an open primary election, meaning any city voter can participate.

2023 elections:3 incumbent Greenville City Councilmembers will run again along with mayor

White has served as Greenville's mayor for seven terms. He was elected to City Council in 1983 and has served as mayor since December 1995.

White, who is 69, is a Greenville native. He is a graduate of Christ Church Episcopal School and Greenville High School, then attended Wake Forest University and the University of South Carolina Law School. He was a partner at Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd law firm with a focus on immigration and customs.

During White's tenure as mayor, he led several major initiatives, including removing Camperdown Bridge and building Falls Park in the early 2000s; attracting minor league baseball to the West End with the construction of Fluor Field; orchestrating the Woodruff Road bypass with the county; passing the first mask mandate in the state during the COVID-19 public health crisis; and building Unity Park, 60-plus acres of green space and public facilities in west Greenville that opened in 2022.

While he oversaw Greenville's stunning revitalization, he also oversaw its gentrification, as revealed in a recent project from The Greenville News. White and other city officials knew they needed to bolster affordable housing and infrastructure, but they chose other priorities — and forced out those who challenged them.

Despite initially campaigning on term limits 28 years ago, White announced his intentions to seek re-election to an eighth term in March.

"Solving problems is what I’ve done as mayor, and it's led to results for our city," White said in a statement. "I’m excited to announce that I am seeking re-election to continue serving the people of Greenville for four more years."

White is campaigning on these key issues:

Joe Farmer has never held political office. Also a Greenville native, he graduated from Furman University and has lived in Greenville for the past 30 years.

A retired athletic trainer and Furman University instructor, he is active in the local community through his church and Lions Club, according to his website.

Farmer has been an outspoken critic of the city's Board of Zoning Appeals, which recently came under fire for a zoning decision on Wade Hampton Boulevard that triggered complaints of government corruption.

Farmer ran for a City Council At-Large seat in 2021 and was defeated by incumbent Russell Stall. When he previously ran for office, he attended medical freedom rallies in downtown Greenville to protest mandates for masks and COVID-19 vaccines and spoke out against attempts to remove Confederate monuments. With backing from the Greenville County GOP, he made his intentions clear in 2021: to shift City Council back to Republican majority, which had changed in November 2019 when Democrat councilmember at-large Dorothy Dowe flipped her seat.

Farmer was also linked to far-right activity that Election Day when a man drove a van around Greenville displaying a banner that said, "Vote for Russell Stall for City Council. Communism wins." The van had a sticker that referenced QAnon, the far-right movement that promotes false claims, conspiracy theories and the alleged existence of a satanic "deep state" apparatus that supports child sex trafficking.

Farmer's platform this election year is more focused on managing the city's growth. He is running on:

"Joe has lived through the change and increasing overdevelopment in Greenville, and wants to make sure that going forward, we grow Greenville the right way," Farmer said in a statement on his website.

To locate your voter registration information and determine where you can vote, go to the South Carolina Election Commission voter information page.

The full list of city polling locations is as follows:

Any registered voter can show up to their polling place, show photo identification and vote. Voting begins at 7 a.m. and continues until 7 p.m., with anyone in line at 7 p.m. allowed to vote.

Macon Atkinson is the city watchdog reporter for The Greenville News. She's powered by long runs and strong coffee. Follow her on Twitter@maconatkinson.

Here's what you need to know about the mayoral candidates, the election process, and how and where you can vote: 2023 elections: White is campaigning on these key issues: Farmer's platform this election year is more focused on managing the city's growth. He is running on: