Bryan Braddock becomes first Republican running to be Florence mayor

FLORENCE, S.C. — Bryan Braddock is the latest contender for mayor of Florence.

On Monday afternoon, Braddock, executive director of House of Hope of the Pee Dee, signed the statement of intention of candidacy and party pledge that he will run as a Republican in the race.

“In my current in working with the homeless and in my prior roles and with my background in economics, I’ve had an opportunity here lately to work with the city…” Braddock said. “It’s something that I’ve always had a passion for, local government and local community. I love our local community. I love Florence.”

More important, Braddock continued, there’s a population that didn’t seem to feel like they had a path of engagement.

“There’s a lot of people like myself that were middle class and been here all their lives and there didn’t seem to be a candidate for me that shared my same faith values, that shared my family values, and that shared my values for the city and what we could become,” Braddock said.

Braddock acknowledged that running as a Republican in Florence would be a tough challenge — six of the seven city council members are Democrats and the city has historically been dominated by that party — but added that party designations really don’t matter at the local level.

Everyone, he said, was in favor of less crime, better schools, and better roads. It’s only at the state and national levels where the political party ideologies on things like abortion start to matter.

Braddock was born and raised in Florence. He said his parents moved around quite a bit, which resulted in his attending three different elementary schools: Carver, Greenwood and Delmae.

“I had to build an ability make new friends quickly,” he said. “I was always the new kid. I got to see a lot of the areas in Florence.”

Braddock attended and graduated from Southside Middle School and South Florence High School. He then obtained an economics degree from Francis Marion University.

After graduating from college, Braddock entered the business world and subsequently developed an addiction to opioids and crack cocaine.

His struggle with drug addiction began with a back injury.

“I had a landscaping business and I had a back injury cutting a tree down,” Braddock said. “And then I started taking pain medication for that. It [the pain medication] helped with the pain but it also helped with a lot of other things. “

He moved into real estate sales and development as his addiction to the pain medication grew. Braddock started to take Adderall to work 70 or 80 hours per week.

Braddock was pardoned of the four felonies on his record that resulted from his struggle with addiction.

He asked who was better to combat the scourge of opioid addiction than someone who had been there and won victories over it.

Braddock and his wife, Tracey, have five daughters.

Braddock joins two current city council members, both Democrats, in the race to become the 23rd different person to be the mayor of Florence.

Florence City Councilman George D. Jebaily announced his mayoral campaign on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Florence City Councilwoman Teresa Myers Ervin announced her campaign on Nov. 19, 2019.

The city’s 22nd mayor, Stephen J. Wukela, announced on Thursday, Oct. 10, that he will not seek a fourth term in 2020.

All three of the known mayoral candidates have filed forms with the South Carolina Election Commission. Braddock, Jebaily, and Myers Ervin all filed on Monday.

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