State House District 41 Candidates Have Their Say

After a rocky start to the 2012 election season, due to many candidates throughout the state – including two in the Fairfield area – being disqualified from running because of missing a filing deadline, the final ballot has been solidified for the June 12 primary election. A primary runoff will be held June 19 if necessary.

On June 12, Fairfield County voters will be selecting one of five candidates for the State House of Representatives District 41 seat for a two-year term, which is currently held by Boyd Brown, who is not seeking re-election. The candidates include MaryGail Douglas, Paul Dove, Annie E. McDaniel, Palmer Nicholson and E. Sutton. All are running as Democrats. The winner will face Republican candidate William Gray Nov. 6 in the general election.

Voters will also select a Fairfield County Sheriff to serve a four-year term. The candidates are Will Montgomery, Eddie L. Big Ed White and incumbent Herman W. Young.

The final office voters will fill is Fairfield County Clerk of Court, which is a four-year term. Incumbent Betty Jo Beckham is being challenged by Dorothy Boyd Belton.

Senate District 17 incumbent, Democrat Creighton Coleman, will face challenger Robert Carrison, a Republican, on the November ballot.

The Independent Voice of Fairfield County contacted the candidates and asked each to respond to a short questionnaire, which was based on the office being sought. This week, the replies of the District 41 House candidates are reprinted here. Next week, The Independent Voice will bring you the candidates for Sheriff and Clerk of Court.

State House of Representatives District 41

1. What is your name and current place of employment?

MaryGail Douglas – I am retired.

Paul Dove

– I’m Herbert Paul Dove Jr. I worked for 42 years in college and university libraries, retiring in 2008 as dean of the library and professor at Francis Marion University in Florence, S.C.

Annie E. McDaniel – (I do not wish my current place of employment listed)

Palmer Nicholson – My name is John Palmer Nicholson and I am the current owner and manager of Winnsboro Concrete Company.

E. Sutton – My name is E. Sutton (Eugene). I am a Pastor at Faith Christian, Winnsboro, S.C.

2. What do you believe is the role of a state representative?

Douglas – To understand what the people of the district want to happen at the state level and advocate for those ideas in a way to promote the county economically, which will provide a better way of life for the district’s citizen. The role of our representative should be that of building relationships with fellow legislators to advance the entire state. S.C. government is an organization. The state will only be as strong as its weakest part. My job will be to make District 41 a strong link.

Dove – He or she represents the citizens of the district at the state level in creating laws, revising existing statutes, and working with other legislators to advance the interests of the district and the state, with business and industry, education, health care, economic development, public safety and the other myriad facets of state government. The representative works for the best interests of constituents as their voice in the South Carolina House. He or she coordinates district concerns and works with local governments to ensure the district receives due consideration in all issues before the House.

McDaniel – The South Carolina Legislature is a group of 124 individuals elected by state designated districts that work to create the laws that govern our state.

The House of Representatives meets from January through June of each year. During this time, they participate in making new laws, changing old laws and reviewing the impact laws will have or have had on the people in their districts and the state of S.C. Members of the House serve on several house Committees where the effects of laws are studied. Members can make suggestions for new laws, which must go through a process to determine if it will pass and become law.

Nicholson – As your state representative I will do my best to work with all in the State House to govern the state in an effective and fiscally responsible manner.  I will also do what is needed to bridge the gap between my constituents and the legislature so that you can voice all concerns.  In addition, I will be a leader of our community and assist the different governing bodies (i.e. County, Municipal, School and Associations) in any way they need.  In other words, I feel that my role is to be your voice wherever you feel that it needs to be heard.

Sutton – The role of a State Representative is to represent the people of the district on the state level: to review, repeal and write laws for the State and present new laws that will benefit the district and the state, to battle for the best budget and aid other Representatives in developing the best economic support for our state and district.

3. How will you make yourself available to listen to all of the district’s constituents?

Douglas – There are basically 10 pocket communities in District 41. The concept is to have community “point” people. This “point person” will organize interested persons in that community to actively participate in decisions made at our state level. Meetings with these groups would be driven by those individual communities. In our present-day electronic communication environment, there is no excuse for “not staying in touch” with constituents.

Dove – I live in the Lebanon community and attend as many public functions as time allows. I am a member of at least eight organizations in the district, attend county council meetings when possible and participate in events in the district as often as time allows. My email and phone numbers are publicized. I accept all invitations to speak with groups when scheduled sufficiently in advance to avoid conflicts with other obligations, and I encourage dialogue. During my entire career I maintained a literal “open door” policy which worked well.

McDaniel – I am accessible via email, cell phone and social media for my constituents.  As a current public servant I am available 24 hours a day and will continue to be available 24 hours a day as the State Representative for House District 41.

Nicholson – In the world we live in today, the one thing that should not be an issue is communication.  Not only can you access me by telephone, email and social media, but also my door at Winnsboro Concrete is always open.  I promise to make myself easily accessible and ready to listen to whatever concerns you may have.

Sutton – I would open a local office in the District, personally be available for my constituents on certain days of the week, create community forums and create a citizen advisor committee.

4. What role will you have in addressing the district’s needs for a long term solution to our water shortage?

Douglas – I honestly don’t have enough information to address this properly and to make an attempt would be faking an explanation.

Dove – Although this is a local issue that rests primarily with the Town of Winnsboro and must be solved by that body, I will work with that body in whatever legal ways they deem useful. I do not see this as a state issue yet, aside from DHEC rules and regulations and the policies, rules and statutes which protect us from unsafe water supplies.

McDaniel – I will hold meetings within the impacted areas and listen to both the citizens and experts regarding the water shortage.  The meetings will allow citizens to express their views and concerns as well as give constituents an opportunity to hear from and ask questions of experts and professionals.  The influence I will try to impost will be based on what is in the best interest of all citizens and the District.

Nicholson – The district’s water shortage is an issue that needs to be solved immediately because the advancement of Fairfield County is dependent upon the availability of county wide utilities.  This is one of those issues where any and all options need to be heard and discussed, whether it be a long term agreement with other municipalities or piping water in from other water sources.  I would hope that this issue is resolved before I ever take office but if not I will work hard from day one with all the parties involved to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.

Sutton – As it relates to water, help the county and towns along with the five water companies to create a true infrastructure around our lakes and rivers which would provide us with adequate water. Just look at the nuclear plant as an example, they use an abundance of water from the Broad River which created a great Lake Monticello. So do we really have a shortage of water or just a lack of infrastructure?

5. How can Fairfield County get its school district on track and how will you assist in that goal?

Douglas – The issues in our school district are many. We can learn a lot from the history of our district. We have gone from allowing past administrators a free reign to micro-managing every aspect of the school district’s business. I see my role as being a resource and a sounding board for information. The key to improving our school district situation is to include more citizens in the process. I can do that. In the future, there may be legislation needed to credential candidates for school boards just as there is for magistrates, etc.

Dove – We must stop micro-managing our school system. That is not a board function. Conversely, the administration cannot add or delete programs, e.g. the AP program, without board authorization, which is a board function. Some school board members have attended many state and national school board conferences but do not seem to understand the role, function, limits or even purpose they are to serve. I say this from experience as an eight-term chair of the Marion County Library’s Board of Trustees. Serving on a board is a great civic service. Unifying a board is a diplomatic and deliberate process.

I will assist by getting to know district educators better, spending time in the schools – I have already visited six of our eight public schools – and attending school board meetings when possible. Talking to principals and other teachers has already helped me understand more deeply and appreciate better the tasks before our competent and seasoned educators, who, in spite of board fiascoes, are doing what needs to be done, what has to be done, in the classroom. My daughter is a seventh-grade math teacher in the Greenville public school system, and we speak often of school objectives and practices. Also, I am a product of our public school system.  I believe I have insights and experiences that will lend themselves to helping our schools do their critical job if we are to produce the graduates our technological world demands.

McDaniel – Currently Fairfield County School District has a lot of great things going on; however, special interest have chosen to exploit the district and our children’s great performance is over shadowed by the bad and the over exaggeration through the press.  Public education is currently under siege and Fairfield is not exempt.  As a start, I will assist the district from a state perspective with telling the district’s story through various state venues, develop a district portfolio which depicts the great things that are going on in the district, encourage hiring of  highly qualified individuals and encourage more community and parent input and involvement.  I will work with the board and not use my position to impose my wishes or laws (through local legislation) upon the board.  I will appoint a second set of eyes that will assist in getting the message of the district out and review the movement of the district. Monthly meetings will be held among the leaders of the district so that issues and concerns can be discussed in a professional environment with hopes of positive resolution.  Through round table meetings with the Board and Superintendent, I will remind both the Board and Superintendent of their role and responsibility to the children and the district.  Through my community newsletter, I will keep the district informed of the progress of the district.  Lastly, I will encourage the district live up to its motto of “Excellence by Example” and holding those who are trusted to make our district great accountable.

Nicholson – As a father, I know that the education of our children is the most important thing that we do as adults.  As your legislator, I will do everything within the realm of my position to assist the school district in any way possible.  It is imperative that we are served by a fiscally responsible school board that allows an administration to do the job that they are hired to do.  We must create an environment where good teachers want to come and help our families in the education of our children.

Sutton – The school district belongs to the people of Fairfield County; children cannot raise themselves or teach themselves. It is time to create a strategic plan from the community, both public and private to develop an adequate plan of action. It is clearly we the people and I will champion the cause to bring our community to the table of education with the support of others on the state and federal level.