Thursday, May 2, 2013
About 100 citizens crammed into a Goose Creek room Tuesday night to hear three First Congressional District candidates speak exactly a week before the special election.
Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, Green Party candidate Eugene Platt and Republican (and former Gov.) Mark Sanford appeared in that order to present their platform and answer audience questions. Summerville, Goose Creek, Moncks Corner and Mt. Pleasant residents submitted questions.
The standing-room-only crowd gathered at the Berkeley Electric Cooperative building off Springhall Drive for the “First Congressional District Political Forum” sponsored by the Goose Creek National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
“Voting is the most important part of the political process,” Goose Creek NAACP President David Cakley said.
Colbert Busch arrived at about 7:10 p.m. and told the audience she is a fiscally-conservative Democrat. “I'm not a tax and spend liberal.”
She said her job at Clemson University is based on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. She said the Charleston area is known as “Silicon Harbor” because of information technology jobs.
“Education is the key to keeping and attracting new businesses to South Carolina,” she said.
Colbert Busch does not support the school voucher system and is a proud parent of public school students, she said. “We have to make sure we're supporting public education.”
Answering an audience question in regard to the National Labor Relations Board at Boeing, Colbert Busch said, “The NLRB has no business telling a company where they can locate.
“I'm an independent businesswoman who understands how business works.”
Colbert Busch said she supports the 2nd Amendment, adding that background checks need to be expanded for all commercial sales.
Another audience questions asked about term limits.
“Every single person in this room is the term limit,” she said. “If you don't do a good job you get voted out.”
She said she plans to open constituent service offices in the tri-county and in the Beaufort area.
Each candidate appeared to enter and exit the building without crossing paths. They never stood together at the podium.
“My opponents seem to be unaware of my existence,” Platt said.
Regarding healthcare, he said he is the only candidate with the real solution – a single-payer system.
“It works reasonably well in Canada. It would not be that hard to change the broken system we have now to single-payer.”
Platt, an Army Airborne veteran, said the country should be prepared for attacks but should not invade sovereign countries. He said the billions of dollars and thousands of lives spent in Iraq and Afghanistan could be better spent building schools, roads and bridges that would create jobs.
“The Green Party is on the cutting edge of abolishing the death penalty . . . most civilized countries have abolished it.
“To approach it from a point of view of faith, one of the 10 Commandments says thou shall not kill . . . we can punish, but not kill.”
Platt read a poem he wrote inspired by his daughter titled “New Priorities.” His son Paul Platt sat beside him at the front table by the podium.
Answering audience questions, he said he is a product of the public school system and salaries for educators need to be competitive with other states. He said higher education should be more financially possible for high school students.
Platt said he supports the 2nd Amendment but added hunters don't need machine guns or bazookas to kill deer.
Another audience questions asked for his abortion stance.
“My answer will not please many people. I support the right of a woman to make such a decision. Personally I think it's morally wrong, but it should not be illegal.”
Sanford asked the audience, made up of many African-Americans, to think of what the NAACP has meant. He said Rosa Parks, a seamstress, had a single act of courage that changed the course of the nation.
He said a few months ago his phone lines lit up with people encouraging him to run for office. “I'm doing what I think I should be doing right now.”
He said as governor he met with the NAACP often.
“The notion of extended dialogue is part of the American way,” he said. “There has not been another governorship with more African Americans in the cabinet than ours.”
Sanford said he and the NAACP did not always agree, but added he does not always agree with his siblings.
“Think about how God arranged it. A man and a wife – not to say that every marriage works out (audience laughter) – that notion of a man and a wife together with two different viewpoints is fundamental to coming up with better solutions than one viewpoint.
“Some people love me, some people hate me, but they've never accused me of not leading.”
Sanford said he does not support the Affordable Healthcare Act because it will cost $6.4 trillion in the next 10 years. “It requires each citizen to buy a product – we've never gone there before.”
A resident asked Sanford to answer yes or no about if he would vote to protect civil rights of gay South Carolinians and their right to marry.
“I hate yes or no,” Sanford said after a pause. “If you asked how I would vote on a bill if it were to come up tomorrow in Congress, I'd vote no.”
He said is not against anybody and supports federalism. He said sensitive issues need to be decided by citizens.
During closing remarks S.C. NAACP President Lonnie Randolph encouraged citizens to vote, citing that the state ranks 47th in voter participation. He said the state is often first in being last and last in being first.
“All the problems we have in this country and state can be solved,” Randolph said. “Let's make South Carolina and this country the place it should be.”