GREENVILLE — Political newcomer Benton Blount defeated sitting Greenville County Council Chairman Willis Meadows in a Republican Party runoff election to represent District 19 on County Council.
It spells an eventual end to the political reign of the council veteran after he presided over one of the more controversial two-year sessions in recent council history.
Blount, a country singer/songwriter best known as a former contestant on Season 10 of the television show America’s Got Talent, won 58 percent of the votes in the June 28 runoff election to Meadows’ 42 percent. He tallied 1,372 votes to Meadows 993 in the unofficial runoff count that will be certified later.
Blount led a field of four candidates in the June 14 primary with 35 percent of the votes cast, but didn’t gain the necessary majority to win the seat outright.
Meadows, 84, owns an insurance company and was first elected in November 2006, He is currently serving his fourth term on the council and was elected chairman in January 2021. He also serves on the council’s finance committee. He drew criticism from business leaders, local government officials and some council members for a hardline stance on tax incentive deals for business developments and a delay in voting to approve funding for a $121 million bypass project to alleviate traffic on Woodruff Road.
Blount campaigned on his desire to build a pedestrian bridge along the Swamp Rabbit Trail over Highway 253. Currently, the six-lane road has warning lights and signs to slow down for cyclists crossing the busy road but lacks a traffic signal like one nearby on Sulphur Springs Road.
Cyclists have warned of the crossing’s danger and asked for a traffic light to be installed to no avail. Meadows has previously been opposed to a traffic signal but recently has said he would support it if a planned bridge over the road is still years away from being constructed.
Meadows will still lead the council as its chairman through the end of 2022.
Blount doesn’t have a declared opponent filed to run against him in the general election on Nov. 8.