Leaders: Pitts will be missed at state house

Mike Pitts at The Ridge

Other leaders from across Laurens County say District 14 Rep. Mike Pitts will be missed when he officially leaves office on Jan. 3, 2019.

Pitts, 63, announced his resignation after 15 years in the state house Sunday afternoon, citing health concerns. He suffered a heart attack while on a hunting trip in Montana this past October, and said doctors told him find less stressful work.

“I hated to hear (that he resigned), but I can understand his reasons for it,” said Laurens County Council Chairman Joe Wood, who completed Pitts’ term on council after Pitts was initially elected to the state house in 2002.

“I’ve never called on Mike for anything that he didn’t help me with,” Wood said. “He’s always helped Laurens County. He’s had some bad publicity sometimes but he has a reason for everything he does. He was a good legislator and will be missed by this county.”

Wood pointed to funds Laurens County received due in no small part to Pitts’ efforts at the state level. Most recently, Pitts, who served on the S.C. House’s powerful Ways and Means Committee, secured more than $90,000 from the state to help build a fire station at ZF Transmissions.

Fellow S.C. House member Mark Willis (R-Dist. 16) said he will miss a friend and colleague.

“Mike is a self-made man with many accomplishments,” Willis said. “Laurens and Greenville counties have benefitted from his years of service in law enforcement, teaching, coaching, county council and the state house. It has been a learning experience for me to be his seat mate on the state house floor.”

Like Willis, Sen. Danny Verdin said he will miss working with Pitts as a member of the local legislative delegation in Columbia.

“Mike Pitts has lived a life of service to those in his community and state, while staying fully committed to the needs of his family,” Verdin said. “I will miss working with him as a legislative colleague, but I am happy that he has this great opportunity to serve in an area about which he is so passionate.”

Pitts, an avid outdoorsman and outspoken supporter of the Second Amendment, will not be looking long for the next chapter of his career. Pitts confirmed speculation that he will be the next director of the Conservation Bank, the embattled state agency formed in 2002 to protect land throughout the state from development.

The Conservation Bank’s top post has gone unfilled since former director Marvin Davant retired last year after 15 years on the job. A 2017 audit raised questions about how the bank handled state money and land.

State law does not allow the Conservation Bank to officially offer Pitts as an elected official the job until he leaves office. Pitts, who was re-elected to the state house in November’s General Election, said his decision to leave office came on the heels of doctors’ advice, prior to discussions with the Conservation Bank.

“Now, Mike has again stood up to serve, this time in a new and unique capacity,” Verdin said. “His abilities and values will define this new position as one of service to our state, its taxpayers, future generations and environment.”

 

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