Island life at the polls
Reprinted from Charleston City Paper
by Greg Hambrick
It’s less exciting without former GOP Rep. Wallace Scarborough to kick around, but the House District 115 race is still one of the most competitive in the state. Now, it’s the Democrats on the defense against Republicans and a third-party challenger. Recognizing the impact of the economic downturn, each candidate excitedly noted the progress in the region, with both Boeing and Clemson’s planned wind turbine facility in North Charleston, but noted that there needs to be more incentives for small businesses. Representing two islands that have been a draw for both developers and vacationers, the candidates all stressed the importance of preserving the district’s natural resources.
Rep. Anne Peterson Hutto
EXPERIENCE: Hutto kept busy during her freshman session. She brought insurance companies to the table to protect patients from losing their policy if they enter cancer trials. And she worked to fast track state permitting for repairs to the Morris Island Lighthouse. Both efforts were resolved outside of the legislative chambers. “I’ve learned how to get things accomplished, and sometimes that’s not through the traditional channels,” Hutto says.
BEYOND PARTISANSHIP: In a race for a typically conservative district, Hutto is promoting her independence. She says too much time in the legislature is wasted on partisan posturing. “I was sent (to Columbia) to represent James Island and Folly Beach. If more people talked less about party and more about representing the people of this state, we’d get more done.”
NEW CLASSROOMS: It’s up to state revenues to keep South Carolina’s schools operating, and revenue is down. “We’re going to have to solve problems without spending money at this point,” Hutto says. That means new ideas, like supporting charter schools monitored by the state but largely independent from local school systems to offer creative curriculum. She’d also hold the line to protect teachers and classrooms from across-the-board budget cuts. Hutto would fight the state’s funding formula that sends Charleston tax dollars to fund districts in poorer counties. She’s also firmly opposed to public money paying private school tuitions.
TAX REFORM: Hutto would oppose proposed increases in sales taxes for groceries, utilities, and fuel. “Increasing taxes on bare necessities in a bad economy will cripple those who are already struggling,” she says.
For more info, visit huttoforhouse.com.
CRIME: As a prosecutor handling drug and violent crimes in the solicitor’s office, McCoy says the legislature would be a natural progression of his public service. “You’re serving as an advocate for victims and their families,” he says. “I want to take it to a larger level.” His experience in criminal justice, working with local and state law enforcement, would be an asset. “In Columbia, my biggest asset will be my understanding of what law enforcement needs and how it works.” McCoy would also “capitalize” on existing laws that offer stricter penalties for repeat offenders.
CLASSROOM RESOURCES: McCoy says that the main concern with education is how the money is being spent when it leaves Columbia. “People say we don’t need to throw more money at it,” he says. McCoy estimates that more than $11,000 is spent per student, but less than half of that gets into the classroom. “The money is there, people are just frustrated with how the money gets mired in all the bureaucracy.” McCoy would focus on substantive analysis that follows every dollar, ending any wasteful spending on excess salaries or frivolous food and travel allowances. “If it’s designated for a child, why isn’t it going to the child,” he says.
ENTHUSIASM: McCoy is excited by the increased enthusiasm in recent municipal elections, as well as the interest he’s seeing going door to door with volunteers.
TAX REFORM: McCoy told the City Paper that proposed hikes in sales taxes have not been a priority for voters. “What has come up is keeping families safe and keeping our schools functioning. That has been the main drive,” he says. But McCoy does support a larger flat sales tax on all goods and services, eliminating income taxes in South Carolina.
For more info, visit petermccoy.org.
Green Party, petition candidate
INDEPENDENT: Platt says he stands out as a veteran, noting that the district has many retired military and residents with children or family actively serving. “It seems to transcend all other considerations,” he says. He is also a member of the James Island Public Service District. Platt is a former Democrat who abandoned the party after his primary loss in 2008 (and the subsequent court battle that kept him off the ballot that year as a third-party candidate).
JOBS: Each candidate wants to make economic development a priority through state incentives. Platt would also curb a decline in state employees, avoiding layoffs by reducing work weeks to keep more people on the job.
BOEING EXCESS: Platt says he supports some form of incentives to draw new industry and business to South Carolina. But he says the $750 million package the state and local governments negotiated was excessive. “They would have come to South Carolina for far less,” he says. In the long run, the state can grow economic development by improving education. “Major businesses give a higher priority to the quality of public schools.”
GLOBAL WARMING: Platt says the threat to the environment has become an “emergency situation — it’s a crisis.” He supports nuclear power as a “lesser evil” compared to fossil fuels, but he would support continued work in solar, wind, and wave energy.
TAX REFORM: Platt continues to rail against rising sales taxes, which are at the center of much of the tax reform proposed in Columbia. “It’s regressive, impacting most heavily on those least able to pay it,” he says. Platt would adjust the state’s relatively low income tax rate to make up shortfalls, if necessary.