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. Brill’s’s responses.
Year of birth: 1946
Political Party: Republican
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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.)
For 17 years I have represented Northeast Richland County on County Council (1997-2004) and on the Richland District Two School Board (2006-16). My supporters know I am dependable, responsive and willing to take the steps necessary to help find solutions to problems and concerns. I also respect those who may differ with me and try to build relationships with my colleagues so we can find common ground where we do agree. My temperament makes me the better choice to represent citizens of Senate Seat 22. We are a diverse community and I care about finding solutions regardless of political parties or race. I am not an angry person; rather I am patient and caring. I am proud of my bipartisan support and feel it speaks to my ability to work with all people.
2. What will be your top three priorities if you are elected? (100 words for each issue)
Top priorities: Education, Adequate funding for our roads and bridges; Ethics Reform
As a 10-year member of the Richland District Two School Board, I am acutely aware of the importance of public schools in South Carolina. I would have a unique perspective in the S. C. Senate and be able to articulate the needs of our children from pre-K to College Prep. I am honored to be endorsed by State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. She knows I will work tirelessly for the needs of our students. From the Corridor of Shame to low-teacher salaries, we can do more in South Carolina and we need to rise to the challenge. It has become increasingly evident young college students are not choosing education since starting salaries are so low and they are often burdened with college loans. We have an increasing shortage of qualified teachers. Also, our youngest students and especially those who live in poverty need more early-readiness for kindergarten. If we are to achieve the goal of all of our students reading by Grade 3, we need to help at-risk students now.
Lastly, helping our students become ready for the workforce and college to take on some of the job opportunities coming into our state is another immediate challenge. Richland District 2 just opened R2I2, Institute of Innovation. These unique classes allow 11th and 12th grade students to have course work which will give them a certification in a specific area or work towards a college education. This is an excellent example of what is possible in our public education system. I worked on this project and helped our school district achieve this dream. I know it can be done elsewhere.
Deteriorating roads and bridges:
As a member of the General Assembly, I would have voted to increase the gasoline tax to help finance improvement of our roadways and bridges. The tax would be paid by tourists and anyone visiting our state as well as SC residents. We missed an opportunity to have a revenue source to make our roadways and bridges safe again. The gasoline tax has not been increased since 1987. The safety of our citizens is important especially when you hear about the lack of guardrails and how accidents could have been prevented if they had been installed. There has been a great deal of discussion about revenue for road improvements not being used where it is most effective and important decisions being made by the Infrastructure Bank. I would hope members of that board are selected openly and fairly and decisions they make are in the best interests of our entire State.
The fact remains South Carolina spends far less per highway mile than our neighbors in North Carolina and Georgia. You can feel the difference!
Lack of Ethics:
These past few years we have seen elected officials from Sheriffs to Legislators who have been involved in scandals and misuse positions for monetary gain. The SC Legislature should not be in charge of policing themselves. I support complete transparency and I do not accept government contracts nor am I in the business of promoting myself for other jobs. The only job I am interested in is to continue serving my community in the State Senate just as honestly and openly as I have for the past 17 years.
Public service is a sacrifice but also a duty and responsibility which I take seriously. I want to represent all my constituents fairly and not advance my own personal agenda. On county council, I initiated a yearly newsletter at my own expense, to keep my constituents aware of actions and let them know when something new was on the horizon. An elected official should be accountable, and accessible, and I have always worked to be just that.
3a. For non-incumbents: How would your approach to your job differ from the incumbent’s?
My experience in county government and mostly recently on the Richland District 2 School Board, gives me a unique advantage to not only see issues, but work on them. Often I talk with constituents about how legislation affects us and our local government. From unfunded mandates such as fringe benefits for teachers to hiring school resource officers, what happens at the State House affects every schoolhouse in South Carolina. The economic downturn of 2008 was a clear lesson of what we can and cannot accomplish when there are unfunded mandates. Gratefully, our school district had a healthy fund balance so we did not have to go into deficit spending as some school districts did. I feel my background in local government and school operations gives me a healthy perspective in dealing with statewide issues.
4. Describe at least one significant political position you hold that would clash with your political base.
Fortunately, our school board is nonpartisan so many of our decisions are based on what is best for our students. I have enjoyed working with my colleagues and appreciate that our Board Chair, James Manning, who is a Democrat, has endorsed me for this race.
While on Richland County Council, I was elected as a Republican and worked with my colleagues to create the Richland County Conservation Commission as well as passing the 2020 Land Use Plan. We also passed the hospitality tax which ensured Historic Columbia, the Columbia Museum of Art and EdVenture could grow and prosper, and we earmarked the use of those funds for them as well as others. I feel certain this tax revenue has helped the metro Columbia area grow and helped the city reach its true potential. I am proud to have worked across party lines to do what was right for our community and city.
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.
I have never been convicted of a crime and never been disciplined by a licensing board or organization.
Just last week, an ethics complaint was filed by my opponent’s supporter about a back to school message and talking about my candidacy for the SC Senate Seat. The complaint incorrectly claimed I used school district resources which has been refuted by Richland Two and by my own campaign, showing that I did not use any Richland Two or taxpayer-funded resources. This was a bogus complaint.
6. Have you ever filed for bankruptcy or been delinquent on your federal, state or local taxes? If so, please give the details.
I have never filed for bankruptcy or been delinquent on my taxes.
7. Are there any personal details about you that voters would be interested in knowing?
I attended Rosewood Elementary School, Hand Middle School and graduated from Dreher High School.
All four of my children graduated from RD2 Schools.
We have lived in NE Richland County since 1977. I am married to Alan H. Brill, M.D. Our children are all adult-aged and they are: Vanessa, Lindsey, Keith and David. (They all played Junior Tennis!)
BA in History and minor in Secondary Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro
I serve the Richland District 2 School Board as a Trustee
Enclosed is a list of my volunteer organizations.
President of the Spring Valley High School Education Foundation (1992-1994). Started their first auction in 1986 and still volunteering 30 years later.
President of the Columbia Medical Society Auxiliary (1986-1987)
Active member of the South Carolina Symphony League
Board member of the Historic Columbia Foundation and served as Board Chair from 2008-2011.
Member of the Congaree Land Trust; Conservation Voters of South Carolina
Columbia Museum of Art sustaining member; Chair “My America Steering Committee” - 2006
Served on the board of the Richland District 2 Education Foundation
Served on the board of the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
Served on the board of CASA; past board member of Communities in School
Chair “Go Red for Women” Luncheon for the Midlands by the American Heart Association - 2006
Chairperson of the Richland County Greenway/Bicycle Project – 2005
Received the Order of Thor Honorary Service Award from Spring Valley High School
Received the 1995 “Outstanding Northeast Citizen” Award
I was elected to Richland County Council in 1997 and again in 2000. I was defeated in a runoff in 2004 for the SC House Seat #78.
I was elected to the Richland District 2 School Board in 2006, 2008, 2012 and have served for 10 years. In all three elections, I received more votes than any other candidate across the entire district.
I worked for Senator Strom Thurmond as a summer intern while in college and later returned to work for Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon after college graduation.
I have been endorsed by: BIPEC, Education Superintendent Molly Spearman, South Carolina Medical Association; Central Carolina Realtors Organization; Mayor Mark Huguley of Arcadia Lakes, Mayor Mike Ross of Blythewood; Mayor Frank Brunson of Forest Acres; Honorable Greg Pearce of Richland County Council; Honorable Beatrice King of Richland District 1 School Board; Honor Chair of Richland District 2 School Board James Manning; Honorable Craig Plank; Honorable Dr. Cheryl Caution-Parker, Dr. Julia Boyd, Melinda Anderson, Samuel J. Tenenbaum, Jo Hecker and Dr. Steve Hefner, Superintendent of Lexington Richland 5 and many others.
My Campaign Co-Chairmen include: Neal Lourie; Dr. John Hudgens, and John Monroe.