It has been almost 24 hours since the forum last evening at the Mount Pleasant Town Hall. This has given me time to reflect and review statements delivered by the 4 candidates.
It was my general feeling after discussing with forum participants, forum attendees, and others that there was a clear "winner" of the District 112 side of things. While this is a very positive review of my candidacy, as a constituent, I have to admit, I am extraordinarily concerned. I am even more determined to educate the people as to what is really going on with their seat, and I am more determined than ever to win in November. Things aren't as bad as I thought... they're much, much worse.
There were more than a few areas where each of the candidates were in agreement, such as Off-Shore Drilling, Gun Safety Reform, and Infrastructure, which is encouraging, especially given the status of political discourse in our country today.
There is a stark contrast between myself and my opponent when it comes to the issue of corruption and accountability. As a constituent, this is where my extraordinary level of concern exists.
When it comes to the VC Summer debacle and the issues surrounding SCANA, my opponent believes this is an internal issue to SCE and G and SCANA, and that the legislature is not responsible for this failure. For the record, even the incumbent in the 110th district, who participated in last evenings forum, and is from the same party as my opponent, believes the legislature has at least some culpability with our energy woes.
When asked the question: "How do you feel about the future outlook of SCE and G in the state of South Carolina?", here were our answers:
My Opponent: "I supported repeal of the BLRA. This is not an issue of the Legislature, but corruption in SCE and G. Every vote I have taken has been with the ratepayer in mind. Dominion will be fine. Solar is the new way to go. The legislature will likely be appointing a new PSC board in the new session.
My Answer: "No other issue is as indicative of the culture of Corruption in Columbia, as this issue. The real truth is there isn't any oversight of the utilities because the utilities are paying the legislators. I personally haven't taken any campaign contributions from SCANA, not everybody up here (the dais) can say that. (My opponent has taken $4,000 from SCANA and $8,000 from the energy lobby) It also comes down to accountability. We have an issue both Democrat and Republican, where we allow these statehouse seats to go unchallenged. Ours has been unchallenged since 1996. When you have no accountability to your voters, you have no accountability at all.
It is also quite disingenuous to claim that solar is the "future" when my opponent was the deciding vote on raising the 2% cap on residential solar generation, which failed by one vote.
Even the Republican incumbent in the 110th district stated: "We've talked about accountability, and we've talked about the culture of corruption. When I first got up there (Columbia) that was the first thing that was so obvious to me. Yeah, we've got people in power who don't want to see their power go away."
My opponent is only concerned with seniority. He stated "It's all about politics and power, seniority". and even harkened back to the days where Speaker Harrell (Indicted on corruption and forced to resign from office in disgrace) was in the leadership.
I responded: "for a Democrat, seniority is not an issue. There are so few, that seniority isn't even a part of the equation". There are currently 80 Republicans and 44 Democrats.
At the end of the day, being in office for 10 years and having a seat on the Ways and Means Committee has not meant anything to the constituents of this district. Budgetary issues have not abated, and we still find ourselves stuck in the same rut on infrastructure spending and putting money into education. Meaning that while my opponent gains power and stature, his constituents are left going without. From this constituent's perspective, why wouldn't we want a change?
Back in my days in the fire service, I used to get in trouble for my mouth a lot. No matter the issue, I always felt it best for my company to understand where I stood on issues and advocate for those issues with department leadership. The 112th district needs someone who is not afraid of the "system", making waves, or upsetting leadership. I don't want to go to Columbia to serve them. I am going to Columbia to serve my community as I have in the past.
My friends, my opponent made it crystal clear last evening, how he feels about being held accountable. I think it is time we show him that the voters want accountability. The voters want an advocate. The voters are done with politics as usual.
Its time for a change, and 3 people out of 4 participating in the forum last evening agree.