Five seek to follow Paul Thurmond for District 41

Dive in, the water is fine; five did just that in running for the GOP primary to fill the seat currently held by South Carolina State Senator Paul Thurmond (R) in District 41. 


By Charleston Mercury Staff

Dive in, the water is fine; five did just that in running for the GOP primary to fill the seat currently held by South Carolina State Senator Paul Thurmond (R) in District 41. Four attorneys and one businessman are in this heavily Republican district; no Democrat has filed to run.

Your salmon sheets posed some questions to the candidates; the print edition edited these for newspaper style purposes and for brevity. The full responses are posted here.

Questions for candidates in GOP Primary

1. Legislation heading for the governor’s signature will address road funding to some extent. Critics do not think we are spending enough and that we should raise the gas tax slightly to pay for better road maintenance and new construction. What legislative path would you prefer?

2. Politicians speak of “fixing education.” We obviously cannot control parents who neither read to their children nor encourage them to study. Of the available remedies to improve our K-12 system, what specific measures would you advocate?

3. Would you support giving the Department of Natural Resources more autonomy to set game and fish limits and limit your own legislative reach into what some consider to be the micromanagement of our game and fish regulations?

4. Is our State Ethics Commission sufficient for monitoring the conduct of our public officials? What changes, if any, would you suggest are needed?

5. The State Conservation Bank has been an effective tool for protecting our natural environment, yet it has critical weaknesses (i.e., the “Death Clause”). What would you do to strengthen financially the SCB so it can continue to protect our natural treasures?

6. What is your specific legislative remedy to the biggest issue you see facing the citizens of District 41?

Sandy Senn

1. Our roads are a priority and must be repaired. I am not convinced that the proposed gas tax bills, in their current forms, are best for the Lowcountry because here we will collect the lion’s share of the gas tax from tourists yet then be forced to give it to to the state for use mostly in smaller counties. If a gas tax is passed, we need to determine a way to split the money based on population and road usage. I do support the concept of offsetting any gas tax increase with a state income tax decrease thus ultimately placing the gas tax burden on visitors. We also need to explore installing a few toll roads to pay for costly maintenance on the interstates. Further, the state should cede control of state-maintained roads to our more accessible local officials along with the funding to bring those roads up to par. This approach will provide for faster fixes on potholes and other needed road repairs.

2. For older students, I would advocate that 11th and 12th graders be given more options to enter technological training to compete for the higher paying jobs with our new industries. The Chamber, Trident and CCSD have started an apprenticeship program that has been very successful wherein 11th graders begin training at Tech and actually get paid to train by the industries that later hire them. It is a small-scale program with awesome potential and it needs expanding. The last thing we need is to have good jobs given to out-of-state people who then move here. Our state has been wildly exceptional with recruiting new industries, but now we need to follow through and make sure that our students are prepared to capitalize on the job opportunities.

For younger students, clearly they must learn how to read and our new supervisor, Dr. Postlewait, is in a position to make that happen. Meanwhile, I would advocate for more “brain rooms,” which are classrooms that provide exercise stimulus which is proven to re-engage the brain through motion. It stops daydreaming and promotes learning. The cost to incorporate exercise in the classrooms can be free or minimal and not disruptive, yet it will cause our students’ minds and bodies to be strong and alert. Why chain our students to the same old desks and chairs and force them to sit without moving? Hooray to the teachers who are already incorporating the brain room approach in their classes and who are avoiding the old and boring classroom setup that has been used for too many years.

3. The director should have his finger on the pulse of what is happening with fish and game. He must trust his biologists and the scientific data gathered by them and then make decisions regarding wildlife without jumping through legislative hoops. As an agency leader, he is already accountable. Any misstep could cost him his job. So, his incentive would inherently be to exercise appropriate measures to protect fish and game while also making local sportsmen (and sportswomen) happy. If the sportsmen are not happy, the legislators will hear about it and will no doubt will listen.

4. There should be only one set of ethical rules and one commission governing all elected officials. Having both House Ethics and Senate Ethics seems duplicative and we should all be operating by the same standards. The appointees to the commission should be fair and trustworthy and avoid witch hunts. But the commission should have enforcement mechanisms in place in order to more quickly discover transgressions, such as the mandatory disclosure of campaign bank accounts.

5. Conservation is very important in this age of sprawl and unwise development projects which are made at the local level. I would agree with increasing the allocation of deed stamps to better fund the SCB and to extend the sunset clause. In the unlikely event that the so-called “death clause” ever comes into reality, then our state’s financial picture would be bleak indeed.

6. With roads and education already addressed, my next focus would be to support police, firefighters and EMT’s. Having represented first responders for 25 years, I have watched the liberal media tear down these honorable professions. Although there have certainly been mistakes, it is a fact that most officers are fair-minded good members of our community. Our Senate needs someone who understands law enforcement and other first responder procedures on the Senate subcommittee as each and every year there are bills put forth that affect those professions.

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