By Al Dozier


Familiar incumbents in the Irmo-Chapin area will face opposition in the June 14 primary.

Veteran House members Nathan Ballentine, Chip Huggins and Rick Quinn will have challengers on the Republican primary ballot.

Ballentine faces a challenge from another elected official, Richland County Councilman Bill Malinowski.

Malinowski, of Chapin, a retired FBI agent, is seeking the House District 71 seat held by Ballentine since 2005.

In his formal announcement, Malinowski says the State Legislature has let down the people in the Irmo-Chapin area. He promises to look out for the taxpayers as he does as a county councilman, consistently voting against tax increases.

Ballentine said he is focused on reforms in the legislature.

“This year we are focused on ethics reform because the people have lost all confidence in government,” he said in a statement. “I don’t blame them. Seems too often we have headlines in Richland County of election day fiascos, kickbacks from the penny tax, sweetheart deals and recently, secret land deals in our area.”

Huggins, who has served District 85 in the Irmo-Chapin area since 1999, faces a challenge from political newcomer Bryan Clifton, who says it’s time for a change.

“It’s time for a fresh, new voice,” Clifton said in his announcement. “New ideas and perspectives are necessary to keep government healthy and in touch with the needs of ordinary taxpayers.”

Clifton is owner of Clifton Custom Homes.

Huggins serves as Director of Business Development for Duraclean. He is active in community activities in the Irmo-Chapin area including Boy Scouts events and little league sports. At his Taste of Chapin and Irmo fundraiser, Huggins received endorsements from Gov. Nikki Haley and Speaker of the House Jay Lucas.

Another contested race is underway for Lexington County Council District 6, a seat held for years by retiring Councilman Johnny Jeffcoat.

Those seeking the post include: Dino Teppara, a S.C. Department of Education employee who formerly worked for Congressman Joe Wilson; Chapin resident Ron Derrick, a mortgage loan originator for Network Funding LP in Chapin who helped lead opposition to the Lexington sales tax; Erin Long Bergeson, a CPA and small business owner in Chapin who is a newcomer to politics; Lexington Attorney Benjamin Stitely, who has expressed concerns about unmanaged growth in the district.

While most of the candidates seeking office in the Irmo-Chapin area are Republican, there is a contested Democratic race: Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott faces a challenge from retired SLED agent and former University of South Carolina football player James Flowers, who has expressed concern about a rise in crime in Northeastern Richland County. Derrick is a mortgage loan originator for Network Funding LP in Chapin. He was previously a senior vice president for First Citizens Bank and Trust.