Rep. Mia McLeod and Richland 2 School Board Member Susan Brill are running for the Senate District 22 seat being vacated by Sen. Joel Lourie. The State’s editorial board sent questionnaires to both candidates. Here are Ms. McLeod’s responses.
Year of birth: 1968
Political party: Democratic Party
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Please limit your response to each of the following questions to about 100 words.
1. What makes you the most qualified person to hold this position? (Be specific.)
Now, more than ever, South Carolina needs leaders with fresh ideas who are passionate about the issues we face and compassionate towards the people we serve…leaders who are not afraid to stand up for what’s right and challenge the status quo, even when doing so isn’t politically expedient. That’s who I am and why I’ve fought for the people of Richland and Kershaw Counties over the past six years--demanding fairness, equity, change and more responsive, transparent and accountable government. Being bold enough to stand alone, yet willing and able to work with Republicans and Democrats to move our state forward, uniquely qualifies me for the Senate District 22 seat.
2. What will be your top three priorities if you are elected? (100 words for each issue)
I plan to focus on legislation and public/private sector partnerships that address the following issues:
1. Common-sense reforms – Even before the October floods, South Carolina had some of the most dangerous roads and structurally deficient bridges in the nation. High accident and death rates, excessive damage claims, vehicle maintenance costs and congestion are just a few of the challenges we’ll face until we pass a comprehensive Roads & Infrastructure Plan that includes a gas tax and DOT reforms. Other much-needed reforms include shortening our legislative session to help our legislature become more efficient and not allowing gun dealers to sell guns until the background check clears. I’ve introduced bills that propose both and will continue to fight for these and other common-sense reforms in the Senate.
2. Women’s Issues - Over the last 20 years, South Carolina has been #1 in the nation at least three times, for women who are murdered by the men in their lives. Our recent designation as #5 in the nation is a step in the right direction, but still not cause for celebration. Since 1996, I can only recall approximately 5 women who have served in the SC Senate. Our perspectives and input have been noticeably absent when it comes to issues like diversity, violence against women, paying women the same as men for the same job, raising the minimum wage and getting our male-dominated legislature out of our reproductive healthcare decisions.
3. Jobs & Economic Development – As a small business owner and former SC Chamber of Commerce Board member, I know first-hand the challenges small businesses face. Our legislature can make changes that will positively impact jobs, economic development and our ability to compete nationally and globally. Public Education, workforce development, diversity and our antiquated tax code also have a significant impact on our economic development opportunities. I’m honored to be one of the SC Chamber’s 2016 Business Advocates and hope to continue advocating for small businesses and our state’s business opportunities in the Senate.
3 a. For non-incumbents: How would your approach to your job differ from the incumbent’s?
This is an open seat. I’m not an incumbent in this race, but I can highlight some of my accomplishments while in the SC House, which include being instrumental in the passage and uniform enforcement of tougher domestic violence reforms, informing and empowering others through my communications, town halls, and community forums, challenging the status quo, holding elected and appointed leaders accountable at every level of government and initiating a global conversation about the hypocrisies and double-standards of government leaders in SC and across the nation, when it comes to women’s (versus men’s) sexual and reproductive healthcare.
3b. For incumbents: What do you consider your most significant accomplishments in this office?
4. Describe at least one significant political position you hold that demonstrates your willingness to work across party lines even if that’s at odds with your political base.
As a Democrat, I understand the importance of working with the majority to help move our county and state forward. That’s why I co-sponsored the Jobs, Education & Tax Act with Rep. Jenny Horne, which proposed a uniform, statewide millage to try and mitigate some of the harm caused to school districts and the business community by Act 388. It’s why I worked with Republican colleagues to help bring the Confederate Flag down and why I’ve worked across party lines to demand transparency and accountability, amid allegations of incompetence and corruption at the County Elections & Recreation Commissions, despite opposing views of some members of my own party.
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. No.
6. Have you ever filed for bankruptcy or been delinquent on your federal, state or local taxes? If so, please give the details. No.
7. Are there any personal details about you that voters would be interested in knowing?
I’m a straight-shooter with a proven record of standing up for what’s right, even if I have to stand alone. Crafting bills is only a fraction of what legislators do. Helping constituents navigate through the government maze and communicating truthfully about the impact of government’s actions and inactions are a significant part of what I do everyday. In the Senate, I plan to continue hosting and participating in town halls and community forums on issues like economic development, race and social justice, Medicaid expansion, equity in public education, diversity, domestic and teen dating violence, redistricting and accountability and transparency in government.
Number of years living in the district you seek to represent: Nineteen years
Family: Brian Butler, Cameron Butler
Education: Bachelor of Arts, University of SC; Juris Doctor, University of SC School of Law
Current occupation/employer: Communications Consultant, McLeod Butler Communications, LLC
Employment, military and volunteer history:
HR Coordinator, SC Chamber of Commerce, 1991-92
Director, Violence Against Women Program – Attorney General Charlie Condon, 1996-1998
Director, State Office of Victim Assistance – Governor Jim Hodges, 1998-2001
Adjunct Communications Instructor, University of SC, Moore School of Business 1998-2000
Director of Governmental Affairs, Probation, Parole & Pardon Services 2001-2002
McLeod Butler Communications, LLC – 2003-present
Board Member, Communities in Schools of the Midlands (1990s)
Rice Creek School Improvement Council (2004-07); SIC Chair, 2007
Richland School District Two – Teacher of the Year Selection Committee (2008-09)
Ridge View School Improvement Council (2009-2012)
Board Member, Palmetto Center for Women (2012-13)
Advisory Board Member, Girls on the Run (2016)
Please list all public offices to which you’ve been elected, when and where:
SC House of Representatives, District 79 (2010-2016); Richland & Kershaw Counties, 2010-2012; Richland County, 2010-2016
Please list year and office of any unsuccessful runs for public office: None
Other political and government experience:
Page, SC House of Representatives, Rep. David M. Beasley (1987-90)
Intern, Campaign to Elect Jim Clyburn to Congress (1992)
Intern, SC Manufacturer’s Association, Jerry Beasley (1993)
Key endorsements you’ve received:
Former Governor Jim Hodges
Congressman Jim Clyburn
Mayor Steve Benjamin
Sheriff Leon Lott
SC Chamber of Commerce - Business Advocate 2016
SC Education Association