Candidates Focus on Jobs, Education, Taxes

WINNSBORO – Those who attended the candidate forum sponsored by the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce got only half their money’s worth with only two of the four candidates showing up. On hand to answer questions were incumbent Paula Hartman, School Board candidate for District 2 and Mark Palmer, Republican candidate for S.C. Senate District 17. Hartman’s opponent, Dr. Janet Mason, was out of town attending the funeral of a family member, and Palmer’s opponent, Mike Fanning, the Democratic nominee for S.C. Senate District 17, was reported to have another commitment.

Moderator Mike Kelly, a Winnsboro attorney and past president of the Fairfield Chamber asked Hartman to introduce herself and tell about her background.

Paula Hartman

“I live in Ridgeway and have served the Town as both Town Clerk and Treasurer and I work as a teacher’s assistant in the Fairfield Schools,” Hartman said. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina and said her passion is to help children. If she is re-elected, she said she will continue to voice her opinion for what is right for the children, the citizens and the county.

“Our children are the future of our County, and my four years of experience on the School Board contribute to my qualifications for four more years,” she said.

She said the two most important issues she sees facing Fairfield County schools are: 1) to keep qualified teachers and 2 )the need for more parents to be involved in their children’s education.

“I try to ask questions when information is brought to the Board so that I and the other members of the Board can make good decisions for the school and the county,” Hartman said. “And my education is in teaching so I feel I have a good idea what the students need. My accounting background helps me better understand budgets and how they work.”

As for long range goals for the District, Hartman said students need to achieve a good education so they can be successful whether they stay in Fairfield County or go elsewhere. She said the single most important thing she’s helped accomplish during her tenure on the Board is the building of the new Career Center and the new technology it offers for training students for the future.

Answering a question from the audience about recent newspaper articles on the District’s proposal to build teacher housing to retain teachers, Hartman said she thinks schools should teach and leave rentals to the people who rent.

Mark Palmer

Mark Palmer, a resident of York, said he has served 28 years in the S.C. Army National Guard, retiring in 2014 as a Major. He also served in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. A graduate of Winthrop University, Palmer is employed in the IT department of United Refrigeration.

When asked how he was better qualified than his opponent, Palmer said he was not there to pass judgement on his opponent’s qualifications, but to bring to the table his wealth of experience, focusing on his military leadership experience.

“I have led men and women in war and in peace and I have a varied background from the military to retail management at J. C. Penney’s,” he said. “I have had a life of service and I want to continue to serve my community, this time in the Senate.”

Palmer said he feels the two most important issues effecting the state are jobs/unemployment and education.

“We’ve got to bring jobs to our state and communities, and there are ways to do that. The House has passed a lot of good bills, but our Senate has long been a place where those bills die. I want to make sure those bills get to the Governor and get signed into law. I want to act on behalf of the people of South Carolina,” he added.

“We need to take a top to bottom assessment of what we’re paying for now with taxpayer dollars. You can’t know how much you need until you know what you’re really spending,” Palmer said. “I want the Governor’s office to take a top to bottom assessment of all the agencies and budgets and find out where all the duplication and fraud are. I want to make government a more efficient machine.”

Palmer said he wants to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse and then look at fixing taxation.

As for education, Palmer said, “We need to be sure that all schools and teachers have what they need. There is no reason why children in South Carolina graduate without being able to read or do math. But that isn’t just a South Carolina problem. It’s a national problem.”

Palmer said that one advantage he would have over his opponent if elected is that he would be a member of the majority party.

“The majority party dictates what goes up and what goes comes down. That would give me a stronger voice for those I represent,” he said. “If you want problems fixed, I’m your candidate. I have the experience and I offer myself in service to you. If you want to be served, I’m your man.”

In answer to questions from the audience, Palmer said his goal for the state is prosperity for all. He wants to move from 47th, 48th and 49th in education and from 2nd in most dangerous secondary roads.

“We need to fix our infrastructure so that our bridges and roads are safe, so businesses can bring their employees and their families here. Then we’re talking about improving South Carolina,” Palmer said.

As for the state of South Carolina’s neglected poor schools, Palmer said, “We need to follow the judge’s orders. We need to fund our schools. I will always vote to support education and protect our young people and give them what they need to learn, to graduate and to get jobs right here in South Carolina.”

The second candidate forum will be held on Oct. 17 with Ron Smith moderating for candidates for County Council’s District 2 seat (Jimmy Ray Douglas, J. Renee Green and Clyde Wade) and District 3 seat (Kirk Chappell, Peggy D. Swearingen and Mikel R. Trapp, Sr.) Both seats are open with no incumbent running for another term.

The forums conclude on Oct. 31 with candidates for County Council’s District 4 seat (Kamau Marcharia, incumbent; Bertha Goins and Quincy Pringle, Sr.) and District 6 seat (Mary Lynn Kinley, incumbent; Gwen harden Cornelius Neil Robinson; and Mary Anne Tolbert).

The forums run from 6 to 8 p.m. and will include questions from the moderator as well as written questions from the audience.


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