Candidate Forum: Fairfield County Council & School Board

The 2012 general election is Nov. 6, and The Voice recently reached out to Fairfield County’s local candidates with a brief question-and-answer survey to help voters make a more informed choice. Last week, we previewed the candidates for S.C. House District 41 and S.C. Senate District 17. This week, The Voice presents the candidates for Fairfield County Council and the School Board of Trustees.

Our questions were:

1. Education/Occupation

2. What inspired you to run for office?

3. How have you been involved in the community in the past?

4. What do you see as the major issues facing (County Government/School District)?

5. What is your vision of where (County Government/School District) should be in the next four years?

6. If you are an incumbent: What impact have you made during your term(s) in office? If you are a challenger: What differentiates you from your opponent, and what impact do you expect to have?

The candidates said:

Fairfield County Council

District 2

Carolyn Robinson


Carolyn Robinson

1. S.C. Association of Counties, Institute of Government, Levels I and II; S.C. Economic Development School; N.C.-S.C. Economic Development School; Midlands Technical College: Paralegal Associates Degree; Winnsboro High School honor graduate.

2. In 1970, I began working for Sen. John A. Martin in his law office, during which time I also served as Administrative Assistant to the S.C. Senate Rules Committee. I began assisting citizens of this county at that time by helping direct them to the appropriate person or office to obtain answers to their problems. Through the years I have been able to establish relationships in the county and in the state which provide information and assistance in meeting the needs and challenges of our citizens.

3. I have served on the Fairfield County Recreation Board and have served Fairfield County as a member of the S.C. Silver Haired Legislature. As a member of Lebanon Presbyterian Church, I serve as church secretary and am involved in activities and its outreach programs. During the years I have attended many meetings of WHOA, especially those pertaining to keeping the lake as pristine as possible for our county.

4. At this time I feel the most critical issue for Fairfield County is that of water, our most necessary resource. I have attended several meetings called by the water providers, and within the next few weeks they will come together as a unit to begin discussing possible solutions. An economic development study was performed two years ago with input from Fairfield County business leaders and citizens. I will continue working toward having the Council study this report and seeing if many of the recommendations in the study can be implemented in order to “grow” this county. Also, it is important to continue having a good working relationship with the entities that can introduce and recruit companies to our county so we can meet the needs of the labor force in Fairfield County. By creating jobs we will add to the tax base for the county which will help eliminate budget problems and keep taxes in check for the taxpayers. We need to continue positioning the county to attract more companies when the economy stabilizes. Adequate services and amenities need to be provided to better serve all citizens in the outlying areas of the county, namely: health services, recreation, fire protection and police protection, just to name a few.

5. Fairfield County has many miles of interstate. Industry is moving from Columbia north and from Charlotte south, which places us in a prime location for our county to locate industry. I would work to recruit industry whereby our citizens will have jobs and the tax base for our county will have increased. At this time the Army Corps of Engineers has begun an 18- to 20-month study of water resources and needs for Fairfield County. In the next four years I see decisions being made to begin addressing the water supply for the entire county. I will continue looking out for the welfare of the county based on the issues at hand. For example: in addition to the items listed above, protecting the environment by recycling, improving roads, ensuring constituent safety and protecting and utilizing funds received from the new reactors at V. C. Sumner, all for a better quality of life.

6. For District 2 some of the accomplishments are: opening an EMS station in the Mitford/Wateree area, which reduced the response time from 45+ minutes to within approximately 10 to 15 minutes; installed outside street lights to assist with safety in the Mitford area; treated many dirt roads throughout District 2 with dust control until such time as money is available from the state CTC (gas tax) funds to pave them; contributed funds for the addition of a fire substation on River Road, thus assisting homeowners who live within a 5-mile radius to obtain a lower ISO rating, which saves money on their homeowners’ insurance rate. All necessary ISO inspections have been met for this substation, and the rating should be announced by the end of the year; upgraded the recycling center at Lake Wateree; built a grinding facility for the county on Old Airport Road whereby wood chips will be available to the homeowners which reduces the costs for removing the brush and trees from the county; worked to continue providing services and maintaining the quality of life for our citizens while meeting the challenges of federal and state funding cuts and mandates without a large increase in the county tax rate; I do my homework on each issue so I understand the full impact, see what possible solutions are available and then vote in a manner which is best for our citizens; I remain readily available to serve all areas of my district as it covers an extended area from Lake Wateree, to Ridgeway, to Winnsboro, to Smalltown to Lebanon.

Vernon Pylant

Vernon Pylant

1. High School and one year tech school. Retired from AT&T; currently working for Duke Energy on Lake Wateree.

2. I wish to make Fairfield County a better place to live and work.

3. Working with Concerned Citizens Group to reduce property taxes.

4. Reduce property taxes. Implementing a County Water Authority.

5. Establish a County Water Authority; reduce personal property taxes; schools must have discipline and parental support.

6. I think I will bring a different perspective to the governing process. I will be looking for other forward-thinking council members to work with to improve Fairfield County.

 District 4

 Kamau Marcharia


Kamau Marcharia

 1. I have taken 3 ½ years of college courses– Mercer Community College, Glassboro State Teachers College, Greenwood Technical College, Orangeburg Community College and Thomas Edison State College. I’m retired from my position of Rural Organizing Director for Grassroots Leadership. I do consulting work with non-profit community and philanthropic organizations and serve on the Fairfield County Council.

2. I feel that it is important for people who are based in a local community and who are talking with people in the community every day to take a place at the table helping to make decisions that impact our area. I reach out to my community and have always been active on issues.

3. I have been a community activist all my adult life – both as a volunteer and as a staff person in and director of community organizations. I founded the PALS organization in Saluda, S.C., served as a community organizer and then executive director of Fairfield United Action and as the Director of Rural Organizing for Grassroots Leadership. I’ve also served on many boards of non-profit organizations and was the president of the Fairfield County NAACP.

4. I think we need to upgrade our water/sewer systems, make sure that the school system really meets the needs of all students and prepares them for skilled jobs or higher education. We need to bring more living wage jobs into the county and make sure that the resources of the county are distributed equitably throughout the county.

5. Our local water systems are aging and need repair and expansion. We currently have water shortages and there is conflict among the agencies and people involved. There are five different water companies/organizations – and there is lack of coordination among them. We need to put money into a plan that serves the whole county – and we need to start upgrading our water/waste infrastructure before we have a crisis. If we don’t have adequate water, we can’t bring in companies that need water for manufacturing either. The lack of living wage employment in the county for county residents holds our county back. We don’t prepare our students for jobs or higher education. We don’t push the local employers to build training opportunities into their work places. We don’t spend tax dollars to seriously support young people to move into a decent job. We need a real program locally that links schools, families, employers and social services – to figure out what employers need, what young people need, and then put systems in place to make this happen.

6. Since I have been on council I helped bring a health center to western Fairfield. I also supported improvements to the Jenkinsville ballpark (walking trails, bathrooms, picnic tables) and it has become the most used park in the county. I’ve helped to get roads paved, got a $400,000 grant to repair or replace homes/trailers of elderly and low-income people. I have fought on behalf of citizens to protect their property rights and the environment.

 Mary Brown

 1. McCrorey Liston High School, Mansfield Business College Major: Business Law and Accounting. Pastor of Straightway Faith and Deliverance Ministries. Bookkeeper for Brown’s Plumbing and Construction.

2. The realization of a need to forge a more compliable council/citizens relationship targeting the promotion of community /county growth and development, providing greater educational opportunities and a decrease in unemployment.

3. I have been involved by serving on various boards and school committees.

4. Limited employment and job training, industry and business opportunities. Minimum youth and senior programs, need for recreational activities and facilities.

5. I visualize in the next four years, we will have become a council that will have grown and flourished in every aspect.

6. I am a Fairfield County native with a lifelong invested interest in the well being of the county. There are seven districts but only one county; therefore, we must work collectively on one accord to gain the growth and development needed to prosper.

District 6

(No challenger)

Mary Lynn Kinley


Mary Lynn Kinley

1. I graduated from Winnsboro High School and attended the University of South Carolina (two-year Secretarial Science Program). I am the Public Relations Director for Fairfield Memorial Hospital where I have worked for 22 years. Also, I presently serve on the Fairfield County Council.

2. I have had the pleasure to serve the people of District 6 for the past 16 years and have enjoyed helping our citizens with their various concerns/problems. This level of county government has been of great interest to me; some of the projects we have worked on will come to fruition during the next four years and I would like to be a part of this future.

3. Being involved in our community is the rent we pay for living in the community. This being said, I am an active member of the Winnsboro Church of the Nazarene, have been a member of the Winnsboro Rotary Club for 12 years, serve on the Midlands Education Business Alliance (MEBA) Board (five years), chair the Clemson Extension Advisory Board, worked with the American Cancer Society for six years (served as chairperson for three years), and many other community projects.

4. There are two major issues facing Fairfield County presently. The first being the urgent need to provide water for our county. The second major issue is economic development so that we can provide jobs for our citizens. However, to create more jobs, we have to have enough water. We need water for our every-day living needs, for our businesses and industries, for our farmers and for our animals. We must come together and resolve this problem so that our county can grow!

5. I would hope that in the next four years, we will have solved our water shortage, have developed more businesses and industries so that we have increased our tax base, more of our citizens will have jobs to allow them to have a better quality of life and Fairfield County will begin benefiting from the new reactor going on line for the V.C. Summer Nuclear Plant.

6. It takes team work to have a successful council! I have been a team player with my fellow council members in trying to make Fairfield County a better place to live, work and play. I have developed good communications with my constituents. In the past five years the council has updated many of our recycling centers around the county, supported renovations for our public library and the Board of Disabilities new building, worked collaboratively to bring Midlands Technical College to our county with the new Quick Job Training Center, have renovated the old Hon Building to house all Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and much needed storage and built a new Animal Adoption Center. All of these things have made a huge impact on our county and I am proud to have been a part of these upgrades/projects!

Fairfield County School Board

District 2

Danielle Miller


Danielle Miller

1. Senior at Winthrop University – English and Creative Writing Major and Social Science Minor. Quality Control Accountant at CoreLogic, Inc.

2. I am a lifelong resident of Fairfield County. Education has the power to change lives. I want every child in Fairfield to have the opportunity to achieve his or her full potential. I am running for school board to assist as a member of the governing body to support the mission and vision of Fairfield County School District. I want to help provide a safe and healthy atmosphere of learning so that all students can receive a high quality education.

3. Prior to serving on the school board, I was an active volunteer and participant of the School Improvement Council, mentor to students, involved in literacy programs, PTO, Safe and Drug Free Schools Program, Keep Fairfield Beautiful, Adopt-a-Highway, coordinated youth programs at churches and other community organizations, assisted in church and community scholarship programs and fundraising, and promoted and supported athletic and the arts programs.

4. Improvement of student achievement at all levels, Pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, creating stability and accountability with leadership in the district, and accountability of funds utilized in the best interest of our children.

5. As a School Board Trustee, it is my hope to help achieve higher academic standards and student achievement. We must invest in the future by supporting our students to help them develop their skills in reading, writing and mathematics. We must also provide access and opportunity for our students to benefit from music, the arts and athletics. My other goals are to provide a high quality early childhood program, better align the education system from Pre-kindergarten to college, and to develop partnerships with the community and the higher institutions of learning.

6. During my three and a half years of serving on the board, we have many accomplishments; however, I will only name a few: Serving three and a half years, I supported no tax Increase. Provided more accountability with funds being used directly in the classroom, toward student achievement. I supported McCrorey Liston Elementary becoming a technology themed school to enhance student learning. I collaborated with intergovernmental bodies, businesses and churches to encourage active participation in our schools.

Paula Meisner Hartman

Paula Meisner Hartman

1. Graduated from USC with a teaching degree in Child Development. I have taken extra classes in Dyslexia, ADD, ADHD and accounting. I am currently a homemaker, caregiver, Avon Representative and Avon Recruiter.

2. I got a degree in teaching because I like helping and working with children. I would like to have a part in trying to improve the education and lives of our children for the better. I feel our children are the future of Fairfield County.

3. I have been a volunteer in the schools as a helper in a classroom. I was in the S.C. State Guards who are there for the state and local emergencies and help with festivals. I was also in a local Homemakers Club that helped different organizations in the county; schools, Red Cross, Good Samaritan House, etc.

4. Businesses will not come to Fairfield County if our children are not educated. The crime rate will decrease if we get the children interested in staying in school to realize their potential.

5. My hope is that each year we have a higher percentage of children in Fairfield County to graduate and the dropout rate will decrease. I would like to see all graduates be able to go to college or a technical school, and the others be able to find adequate employment.

6. I have a teaching degree and I taught at Sandhills Academy School for Dyslexic children. I raised a daughter with Dyslexia and ADD and I help with my grandchildren. I worked for the Town of Ridgeway as the Town Clerk/Treasurer for seven 1/2 years, which included book keeping and secretarial duties. With my education, different work and life experiences, it should help me work together with all of Fairfield County, to find ways the school system can give our children an adequate education to succeed in life.

District 4

Annie E. McDaniel


Annie E. McDaniel

1. Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a major in Accounting and a Master’s in Public Administration, both from the University of South Carolina. Payroll Supervisor with Charleston County School District.

2. My constituents have shared with me that the school board needs me. I know a lot of the history of the District and the role of the school board and I am willing to diplomatically tell the truth regarding the challenges and opportunities of the district. My track record of working for the students of Fairfield County is above and beyond expectations.

3. I have been involved in the community as a member of St. Matthew First Baptist Church (Health Fair Sponsor and education advisor); Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (assisted former students with membership and current students with participation in programs for youth); started the Mary McDaniel First Generation Scholarship Fund; and speaking engagements. I have been a resource for students and advised students and parents in decision making that positively impact or impacted their educational future.

4. The allocation of new V.C. Summer Nuclear plant tax dollars is a major issue facing the Fairfield County School District. A school board that is knowledgeable about their role as a board and which is objective enough to operate within that knowledge and objectivity is a second issue. The issues with the board has caused negligence in the following: transparency; sound policies and operating procedures; state of the art instructional offerings, hiring of highly qualified staff to name a few.

5. My vision of where Fairfield County School District will be in the next four years is a district with community members and parents who hold the board accountable to operate within sound policies and procedures and follow it policies and procedures. A district that accentuates the positive, while resolving the weaknesses. I also envision an improved instructional offering and a state of the art Career and Technology facility.

6. To name a few, most recently, I led the fight to keep our legislators from taking away the voters authority to elect their School Board representative. I have responded to the concerns of parents and the community so that the educational experience of their children is great. I worked with the board to ensure that Advanced Placement courses were reinstated at the high school. By being a voice for those who do not have a voice, or who are not heard, I believe my existence on the board has helped keep the district less harmless in facing the many unnecessary challenges and in some case orchestrated challenges.

Arthur Lathan

Arthur Lathan

1. BS Degree/ Retired Engineer

2. I have always been interested in the education of our citizens. I believe that as responsible adults and guardians of our children’s future we owe the best possible education we can provide. The present establishment is not meeting my expectations. I offer to make a positive change.

3. I have been an active participant in many organizations and activities within the community over the years. I served as president of the PTO of every school my children attended within the county. In addition, I have been involved with the Cub Scouts, been recreation baseball coach and I am currently involved with several civic clubs and organization.

4. The major issue I see facing the school district is public image and perception. Instability in leadership as well as low student test scores are major issues also.

5. I visualize the school district having a seasoned superintendent (three years or more in the position), parental and community support for district and school administration. I also envision a much improved student academic report.

6. Being in a three person race, I have two opponents. I will only express my differentiation between myself and the incumbent . I have no knowledge of the views and/or positions of the other candidate. The incumbent and I differ on methods of achieving progress. I would be more compromising in efforts to move the district in a positive direction. The impact I expect to bring is a voice of reasoning and unity to an often volatile environment.

Carrie Suber-O’Neal

Carrie Suber-O’Neal

1. Associate’s degree in Public Service, with major in Early Care and Education.

2. Integrity, respect, teamwork, leadership and embarrassing school board. My strong desire to educate every child academically, rigorous curriculum, working together with our superintendent, supporting his decisions and vision to improve the quality of education.

3. I organized a 4-H Club, coach T-ball, basketball, softball, sponsor field trips, Relay for Life, Boy and Girl Scouts, etc. I have served on the Superintendent Strategic Planning Committee, as a mentor, volunteer, chaperone, PTA/PTO President, vice president of School Improvement Council, band booster club, Griffins Athletic Club, etc.

4. The major issues are education, wasting taxpayers’ dollars, accountability, poor management and leadership.

5. My vision is Fairfield County School District exceeding the highest rating of test scores in SAT/ACT, PASS, HSAP and MAP tests; a rigorous curriculum, a state-of-the-art Career and Technology Center; and awarded excellent academically in the State of South Carolina.

6. My experience being a parent, grandmother, teacher assistant and having worked in an environment with children, teachers, administrators, etc. My knowledge and experience will impact the growth and development of an excellent school district.

District 6

(No incumbent)

William Frick

William Frick

1. Fairfield Central High School; BA, University of South Carolina; Juris Doctor, University of South Carolina School of Law; Master of International Business Studies (MIBS), University of South Carolina School of Business. Occupation: Attorney

2. Like many in Fairfield, I have grown frustrated with the turmoil that has existed in our school district over the last several years. I believe much of the problem lies with a board that lacks leadership and a clear understanding of its role as a policy maker, not a day-to-day operator of the schools of our county.

3. First and foremost, I live and work in our community. I have served on the board of directors for Fairfield County First Steps (former chair), Fairfield Behavioral Health Services (Chair), Winnsboro Rotary Club (Past President) and the Fairfield County Bar (Secretary/Treasurer).

4. I believe the ultimate issue is, as result of these years of turmoil, the people of Fairfield do not trust our school district to educate their children. This is evidenced by the fact that the population of our county has grown slightly over the last decade, yet the population of our high school continues to decrease. Folks are sending their children to other schools. That is an economic and intellectual drain on our community that must end.

5. I would like to see a school district that is not in turmoil. A district that has allowed its superintendent the ability to do his job and a school board that understands its role in the operation of our school district. I want to see a school district that the people of Fairfield again trust to educate their children.

6. I have served on several boards in our community and I understand the role of being a member of a board of directors. You do not run the operation day to day. You set policy, hire an executive and let that person do their job. I also believe that my professional, business and life experience can contribute to brining that understanding to our school board.

Thomas “Tony” Armstrong


1. I have a two year degree in Network Tech. I work at a Local company in Jenkinsville as a Global Support Specialist

2. I have four children who go to school in Fairfield County, and I know what is and what is not working.  I feel I can make some changes for the better.

3. I have been very involved in the community. I have taken part in the school board as parent, I help to run The Zion Hill Prevention Save The Kids, I take part in the school system by being part of the PTO and SIC.

4. The major issue is No Accountability.

5. My vision is to have the district in a place where the cost of educating the children will be down, the test grades will be going up, the school will be back to a 4A school.

6. I have children in the school, I have been involved in the education system, I will always be in the education system.

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