Putting an emphasis on American manufacturing will strengthen the economy and unleash the buying power of the middle class, said Fran Person, Democratic candidate for South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District.
Person said he wanted to help business leaders ignite their passion for their work during a small roundtable discussion Tuesday afternoon at PuckerButt Pepper Company in downtown Fort Mill.
Person, a former aide to Vice President Joe Biden, was joined by U.S. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, one of the top Democrats on Capitol Hill. The Maryland congressman is the second-ranking House Democratic leader behind House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“It’s not about politics,” said Person. “No matter if I’m talking to a Republican or a Democrat, the same frustration roots from the same place. No one’s afraid to work, but you need access to a good, decent-paying job. That’s what’s so important about this conversation.”
Never miss a local story.
Person, a Tega Cay resident, is running against Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney of Indian Land for the congressional seat that represents northern South Carolina, including York, Chester and Lancaster counties. The two are set to square off in a series of debates in the coming weeks.
We have to have the education, the technical training, the skills for jobs that are needed for a 21st-century work force.
U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)
Hoyer said he was stumping for Person because of his positive attitude, telling business leaders that Person was willing and able to work across party lines to get deals done.
Hoyer said it was important to outfit workers with realistic job skills, regardless of whether they attended college. Hoyer said mechanization and robotics were the chief impacts on employment today.
“We have to have the education, the technical training, the skills for jobs that are needed for a 21st-century workforce,” said Hoyer. “We have to make sure kids have skills that are in demand.”
Focusing on youth will allow a generation of American workers to build on the shoulders of past success, said Hoyer. Hoyer’s “Made in America” agenda has been met with enthusiasm in both liberal and conservative districts, he said.
Hoyer praised the concepts of a local bridge-inspecting company which began when the owner said he cashed in his 401K to acquire machinery. The York-based company, Anderson Hydra Platforms, is now able to service construction sites around the world, according to its website.
Pat Dandridge, president and CEO of Anderson Hydra, said he’s recently started using unmanned drones to better inspect bridges and help identify foundational problems.
Mulvaney and Person will take part in a debate forum 6 p.m. Thursday at 3000 World Reach Drive in Indian Land.
“You don’t know what you don’t know until you see it,” said Dandridge. “Until you go looking, you’re never going to know.”
Person and Hoyer also congratulated Rock Hill-based brewery Legal Remedy for its quick growth.
The original owners came up with the idea for the company out of their homes, and have quickly made their mark on York County. The brewery has seen strong success since it opened 15 months ago at a converted auto dealership on Oakland Avenue. The site employs 73 people and produces 10,000 barrels of beer per year.
Person said he would encourage such domestic innovation.
$1.1 million Mulvaney’s fundraising haul through September, including $511,643 from individual donors. The rest came from political committees
$587,672 Person’s fundraising haul through September, including $540,272 from individual donors
“You’re always a lucky man or woman to put your feet on the ground each day and be excited about your job,” said Person. “It’s a great spirit for people who care about what you’re doing, who are willing to take a risk and hire our neighbors.”
Person later took part in a fundraiser Tuesday afternoon before jumping into some debate preparation. He is running a more competitive campaign than Mulvaney’s previous Democratic challengers, and has raised enough money to run television ads, earning him name recognition among voters.
Mulvaney won the district handily in 2010, defeating longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. John Spratt of York. Mulvaney won re-election in 2012 and 2014, beating Joyce Knott and Tom Adams by double digits.
Person has raised nearly $600,000 through September, and recently brought Biden through the area to campaign on his behalf.
“One of the secrets to success is passion for what you’re doing,” said Hoyer to one business owner. “For so many people, it’s drudgery to get a paycheck. I go to work with excitement, to meet people all over the country and hear stories like yours.”
Dates to watch
Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney and Democratic challenger Fran Person will take part in four different debate forums over the next two weeks.
▪ Indian Land Action Committee Forum, 6 p.m. Thursday at 3000 WorldReach Drive, Indian Land
▪ Lancaster Chamber of Commerce Forum, 5:30 p.m. Monday at 476 Hubbard Drive (Pete Arnold Room), Lancaster
▪ Union County Forum, 6:30 p.m Oct. 27 at 401 E. Main St., Union
▪ York County Chamber of Commerce Forum, 6 p.m. Nov. 2 at 1010 Devinney Road, York