Voters hear from House District 99 candidates at DINA forum
The five candidates competing for the SC House District 99 seat, formerly held by Daniel Island resident Jim Merrill, participated in a public forum at the Daniel Island Neighborhood Association meeting at The Church of the Holy Cross on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Republican candidates Mark Smith, Nancy Mace, Shawn Pinkston and Jarrod Brooks joined solo Democrat candidate Cindy Boatwright to answer a packed room of residents’ questions prior to the Republican primary on Tuesday, Nov. 14, where Smith, Mace, Pinkston and Brooks will go head-to-head to see who will face off against Boatwright in the January election.
Candidates were asked a series of five questions composed by audience members and given 60 to 90 seconds to respond. The Daniel Island News selected one answer from each question posed to the candidates and listed their responses below.
CINDY BOATWRIGHT (D) – Mount Pleasant
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and why you decided to run for the House District 99 seat?
"I am not a politician. I have never run for public office before. I am a concerned citizen and a voter like you. I got fed up with the corruption and mismanagement in our state government and I decided to run. What do we have now? Fifty-four Republicans under investigation, seven indictments—that is just ridiculous. We also have a mismanaged power plant, mismanaged pension program and this is costing us taxpayer dollars. I really don’t feel we can send another Republican to the State House. They are not going to be able to stand up against the party and I will. I have nothing to gain from this seat. I do not have a law firm. I do not have a real estate company. I do not have an insurance company. I am a mental health counselor and small business owner in Mount Pleasant. I want to go to Columbia to bring about ethical, compassionate, common-sense government. That’s what I’m about.”
JARROD BROOKS (R) – Daniel Island
Q: What are your top three priorities if elected?
"I think that we are all concerned about roads and infrastructure, economic development and education especially. I sound like a bit of a broken record but I think we have the tools and the money to accomplish all of these things but they’re not getting to the right places because of the cronyism and corruption in Columbia. That has to be addressed before these other issues can be fixed.”
NANCY MACE (R) – Daniel Island
Q: What role do you hope to play in local development issues and how do you hope to ease and even rectify the resulting infrastructure and traffic complaints we so often hear and often experience?
“First off, the state delegation in the State House shouldn’t be dictating to our local municipalities and counties. We need to work with these folks and have an open line of communication to work together and solve these issues. I do believe that we are in a real crisis right now with infrastructure and roads. We have all of this development going on, but we don’t have the infrastructure to support it. I want to give a hat tip to Josh Whitley who has done some real good at the local, county level, especially on Clements Ferry (Road) Phase Two (Widening Project) by taking the control away from DOT and bringing it to the local level. Municipalities and counties know better how to spend those dollars. The problem we have today, is we have a system of political spoils. The more time you spend in Columbia, the more money you get for your district, regardless of what your needs are. A couple things need to happen. I would love to see spending based on need and merit because if it were, the money would be down here. In 2009, we spent $1 million on infrastructure. Today, we’re spending $2.4 billion and I ask myself, where is the money going because it’s not coming here, where we have all the growth and the needs.”
SHAWN PINKSTON (R) – Daniel Island
Q: Which House Committees, if given the change, would you be interested and qualified to serve on?
“I’m sure we would all love to serve on Ways and Means, which is the budget writing committee, to make sure that our interests here in the Lowcountry are taken care of. That’s probably not going to happen because of seniority. The two committees I would certainly be interested in and have the background for would include Judiciary and Ethics because I do believe we need to have more accountability in Columbia. Part of what I propose is that we end the legislators’ ability to police themselves. As a former prosecutor, I’m a big believer in the rule of law. One thing we can do, is that if you take the ethics act and make it part of the criminal code and thereby make it a crime to act unethically, you run the real risk of going to jail, not just a slap on the wrist from fellow legislators. That, my friends, is how we clean up Columbia. You need to have somebody that is not going to be intimidated or bullied by leadership and entranced politicians in Columbia, but somebody who is going to stand his ground and is not afraid to go toe-to-toe; someone who is willing to take their courtroom experience and military experience to Columbia and start cleaning up that mess.”
MARK SMITH (R) – Mount Pleasant
Q: What is the one job, paid or volunteer, or experience that you’ve had that will most help you serve the people of District 99 and why?
“I am finishing up my first year on Town Council in Mount Pleasant. I donated my salary each and every month. So since I haven’t cashed any check for the town of Mount Pleasant, I am not sure that makes me a politician or a public servant. I’ll take no jabs at the left side or right side—Republican or Democrat. I do believe there are good people on both sides. I, like many of you, am sick and tired of seeing the headlines. We need good, honest, biblically-principled people to step up and make a difference. I have a voting record that shows that I’m not beholding to any special groups or parties. I’m in it for all the right reasons. You have four years invested in me. Understanding how the municipal government works, I ran because I am sick and tired of the County and the municipalities having to take care of Columbia’s bills.”
For more information about the candidates and the election, visit these previous articles published recently in The Daniel Island News: