As the political climate heats up nationwide, voters in Beaufort County will take to the polls for statewide primary elections on Tuesday, June 14. The list of candidates running for a handful of local and state positions ranges from Beaufort County Council, 14th Circuit Solicitor, SC House of Representatives, and U.S. Congress. Here are the responses, provided by the candidates, to questions asked by the paper in order to provide readers with more information before casting their votes.
Polls will be open June 14 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. New voter photo identification requirements are in effect, so don’t forget to have one of the following: state driver’s license, ID card issued by S.C. Department of Motor Vehicle, S.C. Voter Registration Card with Photo, Federal Military ID, or U.S. Passport, on hand to show to the local poll workers.
For more information about polling locations or voter registration, visit the Board of Voter Registration and Elections of Beaufort County at bcgov.net. Make your voice heard this year and vote for the elected officials you believe will best represent the needs of Beaufort County citizens.
Position: U.S. Congress, First District
Candidate: Jenny Horne
Education: University of South Carolina, B.A., 1994, J.D., 1997
Family: May 11, 1996 married Marc F. Horne, 2 children, Marc Nicholas and Margaret “Maggie” Anderson
Current position: South Carolina State Representative for House District 94
What city/town do you call home? My family has lived in Summerville, South Carolina for 4 generations, and I have lived in Summerville for the past 12 years.
Relevant experience: Chair, Special Laws Subcommittee of House Judiciary Committee, Politico Magazine’s 50 Most Influencers on Government for 2015, 2014 Douglas E. Bryant Legislator of the Year, 2013 recipient of the Bert Cicenia Award for Child Advocacy, 2011 Charleston Regional Business Journal’s Forty Under 40, 2011 S.C. Assoc. of Personal Care Providers Legislator of the Year, 2010 YMCA Legislator of the Year, Legislator of the Year for the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
Why are you running for this position? I am running to be the first ever Republican Congresswoman from the state of South Carolina because I believe that the 1st District needs someone in Washington who will advocate for their needs, not the agenda that the Obama administration has set forth. The people of South Carolina have spoken boldly against shutting down Guantanamo Bay and potentially moving those terrorists to the Brig in Hanahan, SC. We do not want to make the Lowcountry an even bigger target to our enemies, putting at risk innocent lives of South Carolinians. I pledge to never vote for legislation that even hints at putting enemy combatants in our backyard. I also pledge to support the Republican nominee for president. If we do not unite as a party, Hillary Clinton will be our next president and push the Obama administration’s agenda for another 4-8 years. This election is critical to keep politicians in Washington accountable for their voting record. I ask you to consider voting for me on June 14th.
Candidate: Mark Sanford – Incumbent
Education: BA from Furman University; MBA from The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business
Family: Four sons: Marshall, Landon, Bolton, and Blake
Current position: Member of the U.S. Congress representing the 1st District and is seeking re-election for this office
How long have you lived in Beaufort County? He grew up in Beaufort and graduated from high school in Beaufort County. His family has had a farm in Northern Beaufort County since before he was born.
What city/town do you call home? Home is there and Charleston.
What makes you the most qualified candidate for this elected position? “I have the taxpayer’s perspective. I’ve a breadth of legislative experience, both having formerly served in the U.S. Congress and as governor that substantiates this viewpoint.”
Why are you running for re-election? “I believe unless we get our financial house in order in Washington, DC, there will be dire consequences for our standard of living, the value of our currency, future interest rates and the American way of life.”
What do you like most about Beaufort County? “Geography is made special by the people on it, and in that regard, part of my tie to the county is friends I’ve known over the course of my life. Pat Conroy though was right, there is something unique and sacred about the woods and waters of the Lowcountry and that’s just part of what has kept me calling it home for 56 years.”
Position: Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor (Beaufort, Jasper, Colleton, Hampton, and Allendale counties)
Candidate: Angela McCall-Tanner
Education: 1995 graduate of The College of Charleston; 1998 graduate of The University of South Carolina School of Law
Family: Married Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner
Current position: Beaufort County Magistrate Judge, since 2014
How long have you lived in Beaufort County? Since 2002
What city/town do you call home? Bluffton
Relevant experience: My first real job out of law school was right here in Beaufort County. Solicitor Randolph Murdaugh III hired me as Beaufort County’s first female Assistant Solicitor in 1999. In 2006 Solicitor Stone promoted me to Deputy Solicitor. I took on the new role as supervisor and major case trial lawyer where I excelled. During these years as Deputy Solicitor, I earned the reputation as an aggressive but fair-minded prosecutor. I was also cross appointed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office which allowed me to work alongside the federal agencies and prosecutors. I was the only attorney in the five county office with this authority. I have since worked in private practice where I handled domestic matters. I have also held the position of Chief of Staff with the Bluffton Police Department. In March 2014 I was recommended for the position of Magistrate Judge by Senator Tom Davis, confirmed by the South Carolina Senate, and appointed by Governor Nikki Haley.
What makes you the most qualified candidate for this elected position? “While my passion for being a prosecutor never left me, I am thankful to have held these other positions because it granted me an unparalleled opportunity for a wider perspective and appreciation for all parts of the criminal justice system. I feel that this makes me the most qualified and most experienced candidate for the position of solicitor.”
Why are you running for this position? “I am running for the position of Solicitor for the 14th Circuit because across our five counties there has been a call for change from those who are in the best position to know what is actually going on within our system — lawyers, judges, law enforcement officers, and victim service providers. These calls for change are coming from very diverse and wide ranging interests. I feel I can fix what is broken. I have spent my career building relationships and working with diverse groups in order to seek justice. I have maintained those relationships with members of the bar, with members of law enforcement, and with the judiciary. I feel that I am the person best suited to fill the office of solicitor and bring all of these parties to the table to work together and seek justice – for the right reasons and by doing it the right way.”
What do you like most about Beaufort County? “The ‘melting pot’ that is our community. We have such a vast array of cultures and backgrounds in our area. From locals who grew up on the May River or in a coastal Gullah community, to transplants and retirees from every other state in the Union.”
Candidate: Duffie Stone – Incumbent
Education: 1985 graduate of Wofford College; 1988 graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law
Family: Married, three children
Current position: Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor, running for re-election
How long have you lived in Beaufort County? Since 1997
What city/town do you call home? Hilton Head Island
Relevant experience: “I am a career prosecutor. I went to law school to be a prosecutor. I began in Columbia where I was mentored by and worked with some of the best trial attorneys in the state. In 2006 I became solicitor, the head state prosecutor for Beaufort, Jasper, Colleton, Hampton and Allendale counties. With over 25 years of experience — trying cases in courtrooms throughout the state — I have successfully prosecuted hundreds of criminals in our circuit.”
What makes you the most qualified candidate for this elected position? “My long-term perspective compels me to find ways to improve criminal justice. In 2009 I created the career criminal prosecution unit. This team of lawyers, investigators, victim advocates and intelligence analysts works together to prosecute repeat offenders — the worst of the worst — who are responsible for the majority of crime. We have convicted over 400 of these criminals, and now other solicitors in South Carolina use the model as well. My office has led the charge to bring domestic violence into state courtrooms with professional prosecutors handling cases. Previously, most batterers in South Carolina were tried in local courts with police officers arguing against seasoned defense lawyers. I worked with the legislature to change the law, and with Governor Nikki Haley for new state funding to ensure a prosecutor for every victim. Keeping up with technology and social media, we brought in SLED-trained analysts to monitor criminal behavior in real time. In 2008 I expanded the Worthless Check Program into Beaufort, Jasper and Colleton counties to collect on bad checks written to area business owners and individuals. Our office has returned nearly $4 million to victims at NO taxpayer expense. The Solicitor’s Office intervention program for first-time offenders has an 86% success rate. We made it available for juveniles to prevent them from becoming the next generation of criminals.
Why are you running for this position? “It has been a privilege to serve our community as your solicitor. I would be honored to have your vote again so that I may continue my work.”
Position: Beaufort County Council District 7
Candidate: Cynthia Bensch – Incumbent
Family: Blend family of 5 children and 15 grandchildren
Current position: Beaufort County Council Representative for District 7, running for re-election
How long have you lived in Beaufort County? Since 1979
What city/town do you call home? Bluffton
Relevant experience: Retired, and a co-owner of Towne Center and Bensch-Mark Builders; appointed to the State Election Commissioner in 2009 and served until she was elected to Beaufort County Council in 2012. For the Beaufort County Republican Party she served as Vice Chair, Chairman of Issues and Platform Committee, Chairman of fundraising committee, and delegate to state Republican convention for four years
What makes you the most qualified candidate for this elected position? “I voted against tax increases every year on council. I’ve been very vocal about government wasteful spending. I’ve fought for greater transparency and accountability. I ended a 10-year very costly lawsuit with St. Gregory Church, Berkley Hall and the county. I negotiated an agreement with Cleland Construction and the county, prevented lawsuit; prevented Daufuskie Island from losing funding for public waste facility and a grant for public bathrooms in a public park. I passed an ordinance that memorialized Sept. 1 for 8-year-old Kalhil Singleton. I personally helped citizens resolve tax issues with county.”
Why are you running for this position? “I will continue efforts for regionalism with Jasper County, Savannah and Beaufort County by voting for membership in the Southern Carolina Alliance, to enable Beaufort County to benefit from the State Commerce Department’s Alliance funding and national and international business opportunities in Beaufort County for better jobs. A local corporation is not eligible for state funding or state business prospects. I will continue to oppose the status quo and will continue opposing funding for 5-B for $42 million, which provides NO ACCESSES to residential areas. I also oppose transgender bathrooms in Beaufort County schools. I oppose the re-settlement of refugees that are not vetted. I oppose more regulations on citizens to own guns. I oppose ACT 388 for funding schools by second homeowners. I support merit pay for teachers. I support reducing our corporate tax rate. I support the repeal of OBAMA CARE. I support term limits and more women in government leadership.”
Candidate: Mike Covert
Education: Certificate from Ferris State University in EPA; certificate from NIULPE as Chief Power Engineer in HVAC.
Family: Married to wife, Theresa, has four daughters — Anya, Katlyn, Kelsey and Allison — and six grandchildren.
Current position: President of Covert Aire, LLC
How long have you lived in Beaufort County? What city/town do you call home? About 21 years
Relevant experience: Successful businessman, compassionate civil servant, past member of Capital Sales Tax Board, past member Board of Director for local Chamber of Commerce, President of Rotary Club, former SIC Chairman
What makes you the most qualified candidate for this elected position? “Beaufort County is suffering from an immense lack of leadership. Citizens are tired of hearing about inability to solve problems, inability to work with others, relationship division, discrimination, a lack of value and a complete lack of guidance to create a healthier place to live, raise a family, work and play. I have daily experience, in the trenches, working with not only customers, but also vendors, engineers, governmental bodies, etc., on making the next ‘deal’ happen. Relationships are the key to everything; I have built relationships inside the county and with other municipalities in this area, as well as state and national government leaders. I have gained the trust and respect as a man of his words, not afraid to ask the tough questions, but at the same time able to work together for the common goal.”
Why are you running for this position? “Beaufort County is on the verge of monumental changes to everything with the Jasper ocean terminal, moving at a very fast pace. Currently, our county is not ready to handle the people that will want to move here, to raise their children here, to work here or to play here. Our infrastructure needs a complete overhaul to bring it into the 21st Century, and our economic policies are the laughing stock of the state. I will take the lead in this. Our current council has had a long time to ‘get the house in order’ and they just haven’t done the job.”
What do you like most about Beaufort County? “Beaufort County, one of the most pristine and beautiful places on earth, is a jewel in every corner. Aside from the storybook, picturesque beauty where you can go from sandy beaches to farm land to ruins that date back hundreds and hundreds of years, to even one of the real first settlement in this country — all right here in our own beautiful backyard. I cannot wait to be able to go and visit each and every council district, to sit and talk with council members and citizens who have vastly different walks of life, and reciprocate as well, so we can all see, touch and feel what this county is all about. It is then, by mending old wounds and developing relationships and trust, this county will have the rebirth she so desperately needs.”
Position: Beaufort County Council – District 3
Candidate: William Smith
Education: Attended Allen University for three years
Current position: Owner of Smith Security, LLC; a member of the office staff at Dore Law Firm on Lady’s Island; and apprentice funeral director at The Allen Funeral Home
How long have you lived in Beaufort County? He was born and raised on St. Helena Island
Relevant experience: Page for South Carolina State Representative Reverend Kenneth Hodges; Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Citizen’s Academy; Penn Center volunteer; and community activist
What makes you the most qualified candidate for this elected position? “I am home grown and have a vested interest in my community. I want to give back to the community that has fostered and nurtured my growth; the community that has made me the man that I am today. It is by faith and the love of my community that brought me to run for this position to serve my community. I am a servant of the people, by the people, for the people.”
Why are you running for this position? “I want to help to improve my community. I am asking for support from my community to help move Beaufort County toward an even better future, by bridging the gap between all ages as a team. I am running for Beaufort County Council District 3 for numerous reasons to include the following: to help build a better bond with our community and schools, to help preserve the land for our posterity, to promote economic development and affordable housing, and to enhance the relationship between the community and the government. I intend to accomplish this with accountability, integrity and pride.”
Candidate: York Glover
Education: Bachelors of Science Degree in Business Administration from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, NC; Masters of Education Degree in Agriculture Education from Clemson University
Family: He and his wife, Mildred, have one son, Lesley
Current position: Retired Clemson Extension Agent
How long have you lived in Beaufort County? What city/town do you call home? He has lived on St. Helena Island for his entire life. He has traced his ancestral roots back to 1825 on St. Helena.
Relevant experience: Served on the following boards: Chairman of Beaufort County School Board; Trustee of Beaufort Jasper Career Education Center; Trustee of South Carolina School Boards Association; Trustee of South Carolina School Boards Insurance Trust; Commissioner of Lady’s Island-St. Helena Fire District; Chairman of Beaufort County First Steps Partnership Board; Beaufort County Rural and Critical Land Board; Beaufort-Jasper Comprehensive Health, Inc. Board; Lowcountry Boy Scouts of America Board. He was also named Who’s Who in America, South Carolina Forest Agent of the Year, Carolina Stewardship Farm Agent of the Year, and to the Beaufort High School Hall of Fame.
What makes you the most qualified candidate for this elected position? “I have an intimate understanding of the issues of this community as it relates to growth and development. I have the necessary qualifications to do the job. I have always been involved in the community in a variety of ways. I understand the needs of the community and what it takes to effectively do the job that is needed to improve our community.”
What do you like most about Beaufort County? “This is the only area that I have ever called home. Through my travels, I have found no place better than the beautiful, historical, pristine environment of Beaufort County.”
Position: S.C. House of Representatives District 122
Candidate: Bill Bowers – Incumbent
Hometown: Brunson, SC
Education: PhD, University of South Carolina, 1994, MBA, University of South Carolina, 1980, BS, Accounting, Clemson University, 1974
Candidate: Curtis Brantley
Family: Wife, Doris; 1 Child, Kendrick
Hometown: Ridgeland, SC
Education: EdD, South Carolina State University, 1988, Attended, New York University, 1973-1975, Attended, Cornell University, 1972, Attended, Syracuse University, 1972, MS, Elmira College, 1972, BS, North Carolina A&T State University, 1969
Candidate: John Polk
Education: B.A. from North Greenville College
Current position: Chair of the Sea Island Region of the Young Democrats of South Carolina (Hampton, Jasper, Beaufort and Collation counties)
What city/town do you call home? He is a lifelong resident of Hampton County
Relevant experience: Congressman Jim Clyburn Political Fellow; Chair of the Hampton County Young Democrats; Rules and Regulations Committee for Hampton County Democratic Party; Former U.S. Congressional Aid; South Carolina Student Legislature; Student Body President of North Greenville College
What makes you the most qualified candidate for this elected position? “I come from a hardworking single mother middle class family, and know how it is to live paycheck to paycheck and still sometimes not make ends meet. I know how difficult it can be and I plan to serve the entire district, not just Democrats. I plan to equally serve all people of District 122. We are all in this race together and with your help and vote we can make District 122 a greater place to live and to work.”
Why are you running for this position? “I’m running for the SC House of Representatives because I understand the needs and issues of the people of District 122. We need a leader who cares and is not just a career politician. I’m tired of broken promises and we need results. We need a leader to move District 122 forward and I know our values and how hard work pays out. I want to make our area safer, protect public education, expand civil rights, preserve our environment while investing in alternative energy, fix our roads and create jobs.”
Candidate: Shedron Williams
Education: graduate of Wade Hampton High School, Hampton, S.C. / Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science with an interest in Public Administration from Morehouse College, Atlanta, G.A.
Family: Married to Cassandra Brooks and proud father of four boys. Lives in Hampton.
Relevant experience: Past twenty five years served as an advocate for “Excellence and Growth”. Founded the Save Our Children Foundation of Hampton County and served on the Executive Board for the Institute for Adolescent Male Responsibility, assisting school districts in Hampton, Colleton, Jasper, Beaufort and Orangeburg with HIV/AIDS, Teen Pregnancy Prevention and other life skills. Currently serves as the Director of Education and Prevention for the ACCESS Network, Inc., (Human Services) serving Hampton, Colleton, Jasper and Beaufort.
Current position: Elected to the Hampton County Council in 2010 and is now serving his second term. In 2015 Williams was elected as the first African American County Council Chairman since the inception and creation of Hampton County, S.C in 1886. Williams currently serves on numerous national, state and local boards. His awards and recognitions are equal too his commitment to education and advancement, health services and care, infrastructure assurance such as better highways, adequate recreation, workforce ready programs, economic development, technology and career development as well as safety of all citizens. Williams attends Goodwill Baptist Church, Estill, S.C. under the leadership of Pastor Rufus Moore where he serves faithfully. He is a member of Fairview Lodge 393, Consistory #282 of 32nd degree Masons and Omar Temple #21 Shriners.
Why are you running for this position? Goal/Mission: To prepare and provide all citizens in District 122 the tools and outlets to live as modern day citizens through adequate job training and job creation. We must advocate and demand on the state level for a new formula in educational funding disbursements, better job readiness programs, living conditions and infrastructure to include our highways! How many more lives will we have to lose on Highway 321 before the issue is addressed? This is not a NEW problem. The VOICE of ALL citizens must be heard through representation in the decision making process in District 122. We must educate ALL of our students and citizens, not just a few. As we continue to see advances in technology, we must provide opportunities and sites for citizens to be trained and properly prepared for the workforce.
Position: S.C. House of Representatives, District 121
Candidate: Grahame Grey Holmes
Education: B.S. Forest Resource Management, Clemson University, 1997; University of South Carolina School of Law, J.D., 2000; Vermont Law School, Master of Studies in Environmental Law, 2000
Current position: A partner with Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick, P.A., a practice that focuses on personal injury, civil rights actions, and nursing home litigation. The law firm has offices in Hampton, Ridgeland and Walterboro and has been serving the Lowcountry for over 100 years; there are 16 attorneys and 60 employees.
What city/town do you call home? Walterboro, Colleton County
Relevant experience: Practiced environmental law in Charleston at C.C. Harness, III in 2000; an active member of the South Carolina Bar Association and the South Carolina Association for Justice; Recipient of the National Trial Lawyers Association Top 40 under 40 Award in 2012 and a recipient of the award for four years; Recipient of the American Academy of Trial Attorneys 2015 Premier 100 Trial Attorneys Award. Served on the Colleton County Board of Zoning Appeals and the Colleton County Penny Sales Tax Commission; Served for five years as a board member of the Lowcountry Community Action Agency which provides services for the underprivileged; Board member of the Colleton Center which promotes the arts in the Lowcountry.
Why are you running for this position? “District 121 needs an advocate who will go to Columbia and bring home the resources we need to create jobs and improve our infrastructure and schools. I am an attorney who was born in the Lowcountry and who has lived and worked here most of my life. I’ve spent my career fighting for the people and small businesses of the Lowcountry. As a member of the House of Representatives, I will continue to fight to improve the quality of life of all citizens of Beaufort and Colleton counties.
Candidate: Michael F. Rivers, Sr.
Education: Studied Business Management at the Community College of the Air Force, Community College of Philadelphia, DeKalb Community College, University of South Carolina and Technical College of the Lowcountry. Graduate Technical College of the Lowcountry in Computer Assisted Design and Drafting. Honors Graduate, Magna Cum Laude from Claflin University; Organizational Management. Graduated from DeVry Institute of Technology; Electronics. Life.
Family: Three Children, Monica, Michelle and Michael Jr. Proud Grandfather of twin grandsons: Jeremiah and Jeremy.
Current Position: Beaufort County School Board
Political party: Democratic
How long have you lived in Beaufort County? I have lived in Beaufort County over 50 years.
What city/town do you call home? I am a native of St. Helena Island: my home.
Relevant experience: Public Servant. Elected official since 1998; Military veteran; Ordained Minister; Pastored; Served on numerous Boards including Beaufort County Recreation Commission and Parks and Leisure Services Board; President of St. Helena Island NAACP; Low Country Regional Coordinator for the S.C. Conference of Branches of NAACP; Beaufort County Poll Manager.
What makes you the most qualified candidate for this elected position? In this season, I am the most qualified candidate because of my experience and knowledge as well as my unwavering commitment and love for my community. I am Battle Tested and will provide our community a Strong Voice in Columbia. I am running for this position because my track record shows that I put People over Politics and I will never forget who I work for: THE PEOPLE IN DISTRICT 121.