1. What makes you the most qualified person to hold this position? (Be specific.)
I built my farm and farmers' market businesses from the ground up over 20 years with my own hands and my own money without accepting subsidies or government handouts. This taught me self-reliance, fiscal conservancy, leadership, and the value of innovation. Soda City Market, which helps grow over 450 small businesses, is a great example of private investment trumping public forays into the taxpayer's pocket. You can't blame Commissioner Weathers for receiving taxpayer money for his businesses or spending it on our behalf - that's 'the way it's always been done.' It's time for a change, though, and I will be more effective with much less of your money.
2. What will be your top three priorities if you are elected? (100 words for each issue)
1. Get the State Farmers' Market back on track. Commissioner Weathers needs to be held responsible for the train wreck that left Richland County - and consumers - holding the bag. The appalling amount of money spent on an equally appalling plan could have built a pair of human-scale markets in every county in the state. We need to fix it - and I can - and develop an exit plan as running farmers' markets is not a core function of government and will survive and thrive in the free market.
2. Give SC taxpayers 8 million dollars back upon election. That's half the 2014-15 SCDA budget. Much of that money goes toward "marketing." Do we taxpayers seriously have to pay for advertising the second most successful industry in the state? That's in the mission statement, yes, but that was written in the late 1800's. Lots of the ad money pours into the slush fund for the boys at a local firm and other folks who love talking about cutting public spending while they're nestled up to Weathers's corporate welfare teat. Not a core function of government. Enough.
3. Leadership. We have so many challenges ahead and need a leader who talks and thinks about more serious things than corn maze ribbon-cuttings and office redecorating. I will lead us into a new era of energy - manufacturing ethanol and biofuels from crops such as the newly legal hemp (kudos to Gov. Haley), sweet potatoes, and poultry byproducts. We can even reduce our dependence on coal and nuclear power this way. Instead of focusing on football and BBQ contests, I will engage the public on hard questions like 'Why so much cancer?' 'Why all these allergies all the sudden?' 'What are bees dying?' 'What can we do to re-enliven rural areas?' These are important conversations that everyone but Hugh is having. Please help me turn this one position into something that will bring our state positive attention and our citizens the respect they deserve.
3a. For non-incumbents: How would your approach to your job differ from the incumbent’s?
Commissioner Weathers focuses on business as usual while he caters to a small group of big businesses while spending inordinate amounts of money on advertising (and office furniture). He's comfortable being a showhorse tooling around to country club golf courses in a Mexican-made SUV fueled by Obama-corn. I'm a workhorse. My businesses have been as successful in generating hordes of national publicity as they have helping create and build a food culture in South Carolina. Charleston's culinary scene is the basis for their explosion as a tourist mecca, and that happened because of people like me, not the SCDA or Hugh Weathers. I will bring the agriculture industry into the 21st century while cutting unnecessary spending at the SCDA. I'm a dynamic, fun, and energetic leader who doesn't put on airs, who listens, and isn't afraid to learn.
4. Describe at least one significant political position you hold that would clash with your political base.
As an American Party candidate I believe my base consists of all the people of South Carolina and I think my positions are in step with what our citizens are looking for in 2014. I may clash in that I want to make some important changes more quickly than South Carolinians may be accustomed.
5. Have you ever been convicted of a crime, been disciplined by a professional licensing board or organization or had an ethics complaint filed against you? If so, please give the details.
6. Have you ever filed for bankruptcy or been delinquent on your federal, state or local taxes? If so, please give the details.
7. Are there any personal details about you that voters would be interested in knowing?
I am now a member of the S.C. American Party because I believe that the two major political parties have failed to provide the kind of leadership that is needed. Voters want another choice, and the American Party stands for a less radical and more centrist approach to governing.