Candidates speak before primary election

  • Friday, May 16, 2014

Taylor Griffith/Journal Scene On May 12 at 5:30 p.m., nine candidates for the state House of Representatives and Dorchester County Council answered questions on their prospective terms in office. Around 100 people attended.

Photos

A crowd nearing 100 people gathered in the Summerville Town Hall council chambers May 12 to listen to candidates vying for their party's nomination in the upcoming primary election.

Nine Republican hopefuls filed for State House of Representatives Districts 94 and 98 and for Dorchester County Council Districts 2 and 7 answered questions about their prospective terms during the two-hour 2014 Candidate Forum. Only candidates facing opposition in the primary were invited to participate in the event; no Democratic primaries are contested.

The event was co-sponsored by the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce and the Summerville Journal Scene. Steve Wagenlander, publisher of the Journal Scene, was the moderator.

Participating candidates were: for House District 94, Evan Guthrie, Jenny Horne (incumbent) and Franklin Smith; for House District 98, Larry Hargett and Chris Murphy (incumbent); for County Council District 2, David Chinnis (incumbent) and Scott Inabinet; and for County Council District 7, Jay Byars (incumbent) and Lester Dempsey.

The forum was split into two parts, with House candidates speaking first and County Council candidates second. During each forum, candidates were given two minutes for an opening statement, and then asked questions developed by the sponsors and submitted by the public with 90 seconds to respond. At the conclusion, each was given two minutes for a closing statement. The order of speakers was alternated for each question.

Another forum for all candidates will be held in the fall before the general election, Wagenlander said.

House 94

Evan Guthrie on…

…growth.

“Raising taxes is probably the last resort, but if it comes to that I'd like to let the citizens vote on that and decide instead of the legislature.”

…funding higher education.

“This is another tough issue. How much should the state be involved?”

…ethics.

“We need to have independent investigation as much as possible. We can't have us investigating ourselves…. We have to avoid all conflict and even the appearance of conflict.”

…the gasoline tax.

“As far as raising any taxes, that should always be the last resort. We should look first and see can we cut any fat? Is there anything else that can be done? It should be a referendum up to the people, not the legislature raising taxes themselves.”

…why you should vote for him.

“Plain and simple, I'm conservative. I'm for lower taxes, less government, more home rule, following the constitution. … I will be visible and come back. I want to be able to see you in the grocery store, answer questions when you're there, I will have a public office with public office hours.”

…his final thoughts.

“I want to be a public servant. I want to represent the people. … I want to be a conservative voice for Dorchester County. … I want to be visible, and want to be the citizen in the legislature. You can find me. ”

Jenny Horne on…

…growth.

“Road problems are an old problem. The gas tax has not increased since 1986, it's currently 16 cents, while our neighboring states are around 30 cents. … We have to make some tough decisions.”

…funding higher education.

“I think it's going to be a challenge to fund higher education, we'll maybe end up doing a board of regents so we don't have a lot of duplication of efforts and conflicting programs.”

…ethics.

“This is a constitutional issue as well. It's set up in the constitution that members of the House hand out the penalty for the House. If we were going to change it to the State Ethics Commission we'd have to have a constitutional amendment.”

…the gasoline tax.

“I don't know if we're going to have any other choice but to talk about a motor vehicle user fee. There are no other alternatives, there is no silver bullet.”

…why you should vote for her.

“I'm up there fighting for you every day. I am battle-tested, sometimes I am battle-weary. I have effectiveness as an advocate to bring positive things to the county like road money, I'm an advocate for … protecting our children, protecting our seniors, DSS. … I am committed to serving with you for those children and for you.”

…her final thoughts.

“I've been there for six years now and I have had to fight some battles that frankly, if I wasn't there, the battles would not have been fought.”

Franklin Smith on…

…growth

“Roads are a thorny issue. I drive on them just as you do. I think one of the issues is looking at our priority as to where we're spending, and giving the authority back to individual home rule.”

…funding higher education.

“If we move into a greater understanding, we'd know every student is not aimed toward college. We want to get that student into the right place at the right time.”

…ethics.

“Self policing is fraught with problems. … We really need to move to some type of system like the State Ethics Commission has. You can't have the fox guarding the chicken coop.”

…the gasoline tax.

“Our state gas tax is lower than North Carolina and Georgia, they wait to buy gas in this state. A tax might impinge how much revenue is being spent in this state. And it's not just the tax but the burgers, the fries, the sodas.”

…why you should vote for him.

“I don't believe government is the answer. I think government is the problem. The reason you go to Columbia is to be at the right place at the right time. … Government is not the solution, but you need people in the government who understand they're not the solution.”

…his final thoughts.

“I want to go the House to say yes to the right thing and no to the wrong thing, to make the right decision for our state, our government and our people.”

House 98

Larry Hargett on…

…growth

“I would push for a bill that would give you, the Dorchester County folks, the right to do whatever you want to do as far as sales tax and let the money stay in the county.”

…funding higher education.

“I'm in favor of helping when we can.”

…ethics.

“There is only one answer: put it on the State Ethics Commission. The House has its own ethics group that judges themselves, and so does the Senate. I've worked with them before and the State Ethics Board does a great job.”

…the gasoline tax.

“I don't like the state involved at all. It ought to be here, our local folks, making that decision. I like the local option tax for gasoline but the people need to make that decision, not the State of South Carolina.”

…why you should vote for him.

“I was asked to be the president of the [State Association of Councils] last year. They could have picked anybody, so I asked why they picked me. They said because we know your record in Dorchester County. We checked you out. … I am retired. I answer my own phone, I don't have an assistant. I enjoy what I do, I genuinely like people.”

…his final thoughts.

“I am running for three reasons: ethics reform, the roads, and the Local Government Fund. … Our General Assembly probably has a lower approval rating than the U.S. House and Senate. I intend to … open a physical office in the Oakbrook area and be there two or three days a week.”

Chris Murphy on…

…growth.

“There's no easy answers, there's tough solutions. We've talked about a fuel tax increase with a tax credit and to make it revenue neutral for your citizens so tourists will help us fund our roads.”

…funding higher education.

“We're working on a bill that requires accountability based financing. Each individual school does a performance audit, and then the funding for the following year is based on that performance audit. We need to hold them to a higher standard.”

…ethics.

“What this ethics bill is going to do is require an independent investigative body to look at the legislature, judges, local officials and statewide constitutional officers. Once probable cause has been established the investigation goes public. ”

…the gasoline tax.

“This has to be a fuel tax because a gasoline tax does not capture diesel. Fifty percent of the wear and tear on our roads are due to heavy trucks.”

…why you should vote for him.

“I'm the person that's accessible. I'm continually updating you on what the state government is doing. This seat does not belong to me, it belongs to the citizens of District 98. I am asking you to trust me and support me one more time.”

…his final thoughts.

“What you see is what you get with me. … I tell you whether you want to hear it, good, bad and ugly. I am confident when you compare my record that you're going to come out and support me on June 10.”

County 2

David Chinnis on…

…balancing the budget.

“The county has left positions unfilled, we've gone from paper to electronic packets. It's small, but that's some of the things we could do. We have to live within what we're provided.”

…infrastructure.

“[County Council is] encouraging growth where infrastructure already is. We've been requiring developers to put infrastructure in the developments. … But what we really need is business and industry.”

…his defining issue.

“We have higher property taxes than everyone else in the tri-county area. Why would someone live here? As Tim Scott once told me, you have to unify people, politics is a game of addition, not subtraction.”

…economic development.

“We have to make this county attractive and the businesses like what they see. We need to maintain that integrity and do the things that we can do because we want to have an area for employees to live, work and play. ”

…why you should vote for him.

“I'm not going to take more money from you unless you say so. … You should be able to cut a tree in your yard, you should be able to have chickens in your yard. I am a less government guy.”

…final thoughts.

“I'm running because I believe there's still change that needs to happen. We still have work to do about stopping double taxation in this county.”

Scott Inabinet on…

…balancing the budget.

“We have to tell the legislature 'Sorry, we're not going to fund all 30 of those mandates.' I think Dorchester County has sucked it up as a county to maintain what we have, but there's a breaking point.”

…infrastructure.

“There are more infrastructure problems in Dorchester County than just the roads, like sewer issues. We need a plan to look not just at the roads, the easy things that you can see, but we need to fix the bigger stuff too.”

…his defining issue.

“Really it's transparency and communication. … You need to know what we're doing for you, but also what we're doing to you.”

…economic development.

“I'm not sure on the permit structure, but if a larger business comes in then we could reduce the fee, that's a revenue generating business.”

…why you should vote for him.

“I'm a public servant in Dorchester County [as a fire chief]. … I think I bring something unique, a different viewpoint to the table. I'm in the streets every single day, and I'd like to expand my role.”

…final thoughts.

“I provide public safety, public service to you all. This is what I've done for over 30 years, this is where I decided to call home. Your decision in the primary sets the stage for the next four years. I'm just asking you look at all the candidates equally and give me an opportunity.”

County 7

Jay Byars on…

…balancing the budget.

“We've held the line on Council, I've voted for a non-increase budget every year.”

…infrastructure.

“In 2006 you approved a sales tax for getting ahead with the roads. Dorchester Road, Bacons Bridge Road, Old Fort Drive, Cooks Crossroads, all of that is happening because of a one-penny tax put in place. We got behind the eight ball, and we've got to continue to do that.”

…his defining issue.

“We are a bedroom community. Most people drive somewhere else to go shopping, to go to work. Every time we do we're paying for their schools, their roads. We've got to create a climate in Dorchester County that's good for growth.”

…economic development.

“I want to know that when employees leave work they've got a place to go, that they don't have to drive to Charleston County for everything.”

…why you should vote for him.

“I bring a skill set to the table, I bring relationships to the table… We need to make sure we're working with others, that we don't have issues of divisiveness, and I believe I bring that to the table.”

…final thoughts.

“I didn't take a pay raise from County Council. I bring that to the table because I want to lead by example. If we're making our Dorchester County employees do more with less than I'll do more with less myself.”

Lester Dempsey on…

…balancing the budget.

“If they're cutting money, we have to cut services. It's as simple as that.”

…infrastructure.

“Growth is coming and we're not going to be able to stop it. We need a plan to help it. Education, jobs, industry. … We need a comprehensive land plan that will accommodate growth when it comes.”

…his defining issue.

“I'm not for raising taxes. I think we need to be kept at a level we can live with. … I want to be able to keep taxes low.”

…economic development.

“We do need better education, we need to focus on getting the tech back over here to be better with economic development. We need good jobs, we don't need French fry jobs. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but middle class jobs are what's going to pay your bills, your rent, your car payment.”

…why you should vote for him.

“I've served on multiple committees … (but) I've reached a glass ceiling. I can only do so much before being an elected official. I want to be your councilman, I'd like to move to the next level.”

…final thoughts.

“I believe in less government. I believe that we need to deal with what we have. I believe that we have a county that we can all be proud of… I have the time now where I can do more, I can step up to the plate and bring my expertise to the County Council level.”

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