Sen. Nikki Setzler is being challenged in the Nov. 8 election by Brad Lindsey for the Senate District 22 seat that covers parts of Lexington, Aiken, Calhoun and Saluda counties. The State’s editorial board sent questionnaires to both candidates. Mr. Setzler’s responses are below.
Year of birth: 1945
Political party: Democrat
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.)
I have lived, worked and raised my family right here in the district. I’ve attended the public schools in the district and have seen firsthand the importance of education, as my wife, Ada Jane, taught school and our four daughters also attended Lexington School District 2 schools. I have served in the Senate and have the experience and knowledge of the issues, as well as, the rules and the legislative process. Further, I am in a leadership position, which allows me additional input in the process. I have the experience of working on a bipartisan basis and have earned the respect of Democrats, Republicans and independents reaching across partisan lines to work together to tackle the important issues we face.
2. What will be your top three priorities if you are elected? (100 words for each issue)
While our unemployment rate has improved greatly, we must continue to be aggressive in pursuing policies and legislation that will increase jobs, not just capital investment. I’ve worked hard to expand economic incentives, promote agribusiness and tourism, and build a business-friendly environment in our state. We also need to continue to see that our schools and technical colleges are preparing students for in-demand jobs. During the next four years, I will fight for efforts that directly result in the creation of jobs, the growth of our economy, and a higher standard of living for all of South Carolina.
Roads and DOT Reform
Our roads and bridges are deplorable. The $400 million we approved this year is a start, but we have to find recurring funding to meet long-term needs. Reforming DOT to make it operate more efficiently and effectively is absolutely necessary so people can trust that the work is going to be done right. My proviso we passed last year calls for an independent study by a national firm to examine DOT’s operations. I’m going to make sure that study takes place, that we follow its recommendations and that we continue to look for ways to reform the department. The Inspector General has indicated the proviso is a visionary approach that could be used with other agencies.
Providing quality education to all children regardless of where they live is the key to addressing nearly every issue our state faces, and this is particularly true in the “corridor of shame” and low performing districts. That begins with helping our teachers. We have to address the teacher shortage by focusing on recruitment and retention. We must also tackle the building and transportation issues. We have taken some steps with the implementation and expansion of 4-K in at risk districts but we need Universal 4-K. We also need to develop a seamless system from birth through high school that makes all students successful.
3b. For incumbents: What do you consider your most significant accomplishments in this office?
I have been fortunate to be involved in a lot of significant legislation and actions during my service in the Senate. I certainly think providing 4-K, particularly in low performing schools, is significant as well as the Education and Economic Development Act and the Education Accountability Act. The passage of these have moved us in the right direction in improving the quality of education we provide our children.
Leading the fight in the Senate to bring Amazon and 2,500 jobs to our district and the state when we so desperately needed jobs – and when others fought against it – was extremely important.
Reforming the DOT Commission, providing funding for our roads and passage of the proviso requiring an independent study of DOT are significant.
I also think it is significant that I have developed the ability to work on a bipartisan basis across party lines to do what is right for our state and our people.
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.
Earlier this year, when Republicans and Democrats were at odds over how to proceed with the crucial roads debate, I helped bring both parties to the table and we held a legitimate discussion about our crumbling infrastructure and passed the first significant piece of legislation in decades to address our failing roads, bridges and highways.
I serve as the Minority Leader and also as Chairman of the Lexington County Delegation to which I was elected unanimously by all Republican members except myself.
I also authored legislation such as Act 98 and Read to Succeed with the Majority Leader, which shows I am someone who consistently works on a bipartisan basis.
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 grew up right here, working in my family’s hamburger business and attending public schools. I have my own law practice here. My wife of 47 years, Ada Jane, and I raised four daughters right here in the district. They are incredible women who make us proud every day with their service in our community. They also given us eight grandchildren who are a source of infinite joy. Those children and all the other children of South Carolina are the reason I continue to get up every day and fight to make a difference for our community and state.
Number of years living in the district you seek to represent:
I have lived in the District since I was one year old. I grew up in the district and went to the public schools in Lexington School District 2. I have not only grown up in the District but I have lived and worked as well as raised our children who also went to public schools in Lexington District 2 my entire life.
Family (name of spouse, number and ages of children if at home, number of grown children):
Wife: Ada Jane, married for 47 years.
Four daughters, eight grandchildren
BA in Political Science, University of South Carolina
JD, USC School of Law
Attorney, Setzler & Scott
Employment, military and volunteer history:
I stated working at our family’s hamburger business, Ed’s Drive Thru, when I was nine years old. Since graduation from Law School, I have practiced law and our office is located in West Columbia, SC
Please list all public offices to which you’ve been elected, when and where:
South Carolina Senate, first elected in November 1976.
Please list year and office of any unsuccessful runs for public office:
Other political and government experience:
Key endorsements you’ve received:
Business Advocate Award for 2016 from the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce
S.C. Conservation Voters and received their Green Tie Award on September 21, 2016
S. C. Chapter of Sierra Club
National Federation of Independent Business