District 14 candidates: In their own words

With only a few days remaining before the Tuesday’s special primary election in the South Carolina House District 14 race, the candidates are making their final stops.

The Laurens County Farm Bureau is hosting a forum for all six candidates – four republicans and two democrats – at 7 p.m. Friday at the Farm Bureau Office at 726 E. Main St. in Laurens. The two Democratic candidates are also set to participate in a forum sponsored by the Laurens County Democratic Party at 7 p.m. Monday, the eve of the primary election, at the Historic Laurens County Courthouse.

Republican candidates have also participated in two forums in Laurens, the latest hosted this past Monday night by retired Rep. Mike Pitts, whose resignation citing health concerns necessitated the special election. Pitts suffered a heart attack just prior to winning an ninth term to office in November.

The Advertiser asked two general questions of all six candidates in order to give them a chance to express their views to all voters. Here are their responses:

 

DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES

Bobby Gregory, Sr., Laurens

Q: Why do you believe you are the right choice to represent District 14 in the South Carolina House?

A: One thing is this car title loan business. Charging $250 (monthly) interest on $1,000 is wrong. People should be able to pay $50 interest on their loans and put that other $200 to pay it back.

We need more qualified teachers so kids will have better educations. We need to cut class sizes down, so the teachers will have time to teach the students.

We have to cut down the size of classrooms and get more qualified teachers.

We have too many people living on fixed incomes, living day to day just trying to make it. Some people can’t afford their medicine. We need to set a program up to help people on fixed incomes so that they can get their medicine.

We need to get more qualified teachers and pay them and our law enforcement what they’re worth. In law enforcement, when they walk out that door, they don’t know if they’re coming back or not.

That’s what I’m for. I’m not just for the people in District 14, I’m for the people of the state of South Carolina.

 

Q: If elected, what do you envision having accomplished after your term is completed?

A: I’ve never run for anything before, but I hope I can get some of this accomplished. If I can keep people from losing their vehicles to title loan companies, that’s one thing. I want to help people who are struggling and have to scrape every day to get by. Those are the people I’m for.

 

Garrett McDaniel, Laurens

Q: Why do you believe you are the right choice to represent District 14 in the South Carolina House?

A: I want to work for all the citizens of South Carolina, especially those in rural areas like Laurens and Greenwood. I believe we as South Carolinians have a common goal of pushing our state progressively and efficiently into the future and I can offer common sense leadership to District 14. I don’t have all the answers but asking the right questions takes just as much skill as giving the right answer. I will ask the tough questions and provide results as my record on Laurens County Council reflects.

 

Q: If elected, what do you envision having accomplished after your term is completed?

A: By the end of my first term I would like to ensure that public school education is made our state’s number one priority. I would also fight to implement Medicaid expansion to provide affordable healthcare options in our state and get budgets passed that fully fund the Local Government Fund, getting your tax dollars back to the citizens  of South Carolina.

 

REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES

Grant Blair, Ninety Six

Why do you believe you are the right choice to represent District 14 in the South Carolina House?

I think it’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

I have a history of contributions to Lake Greenwood; Installing the 1st  Slalom Course,  building a water ski jump, lake regulations, Greenwood Zoning Board, annual Lake Greenwood clean-ups, Preserving Lake Greenwood,

Lake Greenwood Master Plan. These were never individual accomplishments, but always a team effort with other people like me…people who believed in putting their time, money and hard work into a project rather than complaining and expecting someone else to do the work.

The great thing about running for office has been my friends on both sides of the lake who have put up signs, talked to other friends and offered suggestions, as well as all the interesting people I have talked to in the last few weeks.

Also, there is more to this job that just Lake Greenwood. My wife worked for Piedmont Tech for many years, but also worked both with and in industry. She has passed, but left me with her perspective on business and education.

My third contribution is as a retiree. There were many volunteer jobs I turned down because no one would listen to my opinion, or they thought “I left my brains behind on the job”. Regardless of how the election ends, if I have taught my opponents to respect experience, then I have already won an important battle.

 

Q: If elected, what do you envision having accomplished after your term is completed?

A: Actually, I’m asking for many of the things we see today to stay the same. If we can keep our low taxes and small-town southern charm as we grow while continuing to attract retirees, then I will be satisfied.

If Lake Greenwood continues to be a clean, family-friendly lake, I will be happy, but I also expect to see progress in its infrastructure.

I expect to see more industry and a young labor force that is growing, rather than shrinking.

The other thing I will do is watch out for the unexpected.

When I moved here, Textiles drove the economy, computers filled a whole room, and solar power was a pipe dream. When the unexpected happens, you often have to learn how to make lemonade from life’s lemons.

 

Scott Horne, Ware Shoals

Q: Why do you believe you are the right choice to represent District 14 in the South Carolina House?
A: Our district will be soon be impacted by decisions in Columbia including the redrawing of district lines. The next representative will need to have both the political knowledge and the people skills to make sure our district is represented well in Columbia during this critical time. By serving on the District 51 School Board and the Laurens County Planning Commission I have learned how to create and support policies that benefit the tax-paying citizens in our county. As a small service business owner, I’ve also developed the people skills that have made my businesses successful. You can be the smartest politician out there, but if you have no people skills you won’t be effective. My people skills have built 3 successful service businesses right here in Laurens County. The same skills that brought jobs and money to this county will serve us well in Columbia.

Q: If elected, what do you envision having accomplished after your term is completed? Thanks
A: I will have kept my word and taken the message that the people want to Columbia. Whether the issue is education, ethics, tax reform, or anything else, my greatest accomplishment will be if others say I stood for the people and not myself.

 

Stewart Jones, Laurens

Q: Why do you believe you are the right choice to represent District 14 in the South Carolina House?

A: I’m an 8th generation resident of Laurens County committed to the cause of liberty and service in our community. My wife, Kelly, I and our two children (Lillie and Emma) are members at First Baptist Church of Laurens. My kids attend Laurens District 55 Schools. I started my own business during the recession and God has been good to me and my family.

In 2014, you elected me to serve on Laurens County Council. Over the last four years, I’ve had great success bringing a new level of transparency to local government. Some of the great things that we’ve been able to accomplish in one term include: regular posting of agendas/minutes, a new website, online posting of financial records, online posting of county purchasing statements, auditing phone and data lines (resulting in $77k per year savings) and breaking apart the commingled county funds. All of things helped us to get our county to get out of a recurring annual deficit, balance the county budget, keep taxes low and increase pay for essential government services like law enforcement.

It’s been an incredible honor to serve you as a member of Laurens County council. In only one term, I’ve been able to bring greater transparency and accountability to local government. Most importantly, I’ve defended and passed laws to reinforce our Constitution from the local level. If elected to serve you and District 14, I will take what I’ve learned at the local level and apply these principles with State government for our roads, education, infrastructure and work development. I will continue to stand for life, liberty and property of all people in our community.

Q: If elected, what do you envision having accomplished after your term is completed?

A: As a Laurens County council member, I have had to work with state legislators on many issues since 2015. Luckily, I have formed important relationships that will benefit District 14 in the long run and help us to reach our goals.

I hope to pass H.3289 (the Personhood Act) in order to protect the lives of the unborn. All life is precious and all children are gifts from God.

Secondly, I will support H.3111 to address the issues with our roads. This will add more accountability to fixing our roads by creating a cabinet level position under the governor. It will also separate the state Infrastructure Bank which is making politically motivative decisions and not needs based decisions to fix our roads.

Third, I will work to pass education reform in order to allow much choice in our schools and get teachers up to adequate pay levels.

I will also work to pass the infrastructure bill and help finish the water pump station at Lake Greenwood and work to get sewer in much needed areas of our county.

These are some of the many issues that I hope to accomplish in my first two years in the SC House of Reps. Above all, I will stand and defend our Constitution and the people of Distirct 14.

 

Michael Seymour, Laurens

Q: Why do you believe you are the right choice to represent District 14 in the South Carolina House?

A: I was first elected in 1996 to State Government. With 23 years
experience working in Columbia, I am fortunate to have already forged
relationships with state officials during my time as a Conservation
District Commissioner. District 14 needs someone who will not only fight
for our best interests, but will also be effective in doing so, and I
feel like I am that person. I have the experience to be a successful
advocate for many different ideas brought to me. In other words, we need
someone with the experience and temperament to build coalitions in order
to achieve the goal of making District 14 prosperous. Laurens County
needs a resident legislature who will look out for us.
In addition to that, being a small business owner, I will fight to make
sure that all small businesses will be well represented in Columbia, and
I will help those in need navigate the labyrinth of state government to
get the help they deserve.

Q: If elected, what do you envision having accomplished after your term is completed?

A: There are three issues I want to focus on. The first being Reforming
Veterans Affairs and making sure our veterans are getting the access to
healthcare they need. Second is Workforce Development, which is key
given that we are a manufacturing heavy state, and we must be able to
provide a workforce for the companies that are already here, and for
those looking to move here as well. Third is Education Reform. Right now
we are seeing teachers leave the classroom at an alarming rate,
classroom sizes are ballooning, and we are continuing to fall further
and further behind. We need someone who will take an innovative approach
and look at other states that have successful education models in place,
research them, and find a way to bring what they do best to South
Carolina. Raising teacher pay and reducing classroom size is a good
start, but we must do more.

The Laurens County and Greenwood County delegations currently control
over $250,000 in two funds. One is a PARD fund and the other is the
Water Rec Fund. I would ensure that the portion of this money that
should be spent in District 14 is spent on projects to improve the
quality of life. Projects such as the Swamp Rabbit trail, parks in
municipalities and in the county, as well as lake access would be a way
to do this while haveing a huge economic impact on the area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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