HERE’S A recap of The State’s endorsements in today’s election:
Constitutional amendment: The office of lieutenant governor is a powerless position that could be made useful if gubernatorial candidates picked their running mates, rather than continuing to have what should be their top lieutenant thrust upon them. Voting “yes” on the only statewide amendment also would provide the continuity that the position was designed to provide.
The amendment removes the lieutenant governor as presiding officer of the Senate, which has little practical effect and certainly isn’t the Senate power grab that critics suggest. Critics also are wrong to think they’ll be able to vote on an amendment without this change; if they vote no, the Legislature won’t give us another chance.
Richland County transportation tax: Voting “yes” to raise the sales tax by a penny on the dollar will transform the county’s transportation network, enhancing quality of life, improving traffic safety, stimulating the economy and promoting long-term growth. The tax will provide stable funding to meet the need for a vibrant bus system to serve those whose lives and livelihoods depend on it. Voters also should approve a plan to let the county borrow $450 million— to be repaid via the tax — to get work started quickly.
Senate District 20: As Senate president pro tempore, Republican Sen. John Courson is the most important of the traditional Republicans who have held the line against the Sanford-Haley breed of no-compromise libertarians who would rather make a statement than run a state. He balances education, the environment, economic development and low taxes. He’s the highest-ranked opponent of efforts to throw tax dollars at private schools and supporter of conserving our environmental resources.
Senate District 26: Democratic Sen. Nikki Setzler has a solid record of working across party lines; his opponent, by contrast, says she looks forward to joining the bomb throwers who are more interested in making political statements than making our state better. Mr. Setzler is a respected voice in education policy, was one of the key architects of laws that reined in the State Retirement System and the Employment Security Commission, and has been one of the few Democrats to consistently support empowering governors.
House District 75: Democrat Joe McCulloch values the consensus-building process that the Founding Fathers envisioned as central to our system of self-government; his opponent is disdainful of the whole idea. Mr. McCulloch supports giving kids in poor districts as many opportunities as those in suburban districts, and making sure school funds are better spent, for instance by consolidating districts. He supports giving governors more authority, closing tax loopholes and toughening ethics enforcement.
House District 78: Republican Rep. Joan Brady brings attention to issues that are not on the House Republican Caucus’ agenda, showing fellow Republicans that “not every issue is Republican or Democratic.” That’s important because we need more lawmakers who want to solve our state’s problems. She supports comprehensive tax reform, giving governors more authority and better funding the public schools, and opposes paying parents to send their kids to private schools.
Richland County Council District 7: Democrat Torrey Rush is smart and understands the problems facing the county and district. He sees the county’s potential for economic development and improved quality of life and is committed to regional cooperation. His opponent has few ideas and considers Richland County an island unto itself, which need not work with other counties. Mr. Rush stresses the need to bring more accountability and responsibility to the council.
Richland County Council District 8: Michael Letts doesn’t make the most compelling case for voters to elect him, but he doesn’t have to: Incumbent Jim Manning has practically made it for him through his bizarre behavior, questionable decisions and spendthrift ways. Mr. Letts, who says he would treat the public, fellow council members and county staff with respect and promote proactive planning, would be a much-needed conservative voice on the council.
Lexington County Council District 5: Bobby “Grave Digger” Keisler presents no clear vision for the county or reason for the people to stick with him, but his opponent presents no good reason to switch to him. Mr. Keisler does understand that a council member must put the overall needs of the county first, and he embraces regional cooperation.
Lexington County Council District 1: Jim Kinard is an easy-going, steady councilman who has served well. He rightly takes pride in helping to put together the deal to split fees collected in lieu of taxes from companies in the county industrial park among the five school districts, rather than keeping all the money in the district where the park is located; the deal should serve as a model for the state.