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Gubernatorial candidate McLeod visits St. Helena

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Above: S.C. State Senator Mia McLeod (D), right, discusses how she would change state government if elected Governor of South Carolina in 2024. Sen. McLeod made a campaign stop Friday afternoon at the Gullah Geechee Visitors Center at LyBensons Gallery & Studio on St. Helena Island. 

By Mike McCombs

Mia McLeod, a State Senator from Bennettsville and a Democratic candidate for governor, visited the Gullah Geechee Visitors Center at LyBensons Gallery & Studio on Friday to meet potential voters from Saint Helena Island and Beaufort County.

About three dozen interested people took up spots in the gallery to hear what McLeod had to say.

One “local” issue McLeod showed some support for is the planned Port of Jasper.

“My interest is in bringing jobs and opening up better economic opportunities for the people of South Carolina,” McLeod said.

Without saying his name, McLeod took a shot at former Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-1), touting the fact that she is the only candidate in the Democratic primary with experience in the executive branch. She worked for Govs. Jim Hodges and David Beasley.

McLeod heavily criticized Gov. Henry McMaster and his current handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need people in office who have the courage to lead,” McLeod said. “We don’t currently have that.”

With the potential for the effect of the pandemic in South Carolina to get much worse, McLeod said she’s already seeing signs it may play a part in the race two years from now.

S.C. State Senator Mia McLeod (D) describes how God talked to her and told her to run for Governor against Republican Henry McMaster in 2024 during a brief campaign stop Friday afternoon at the Gullah Geechee Visitors Center at LyBensons Gallery & Studio on St. Helena Island. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

“I think it’s going to have a significant impact. In the senate, I’m getting emails and phone calls every single day from Republicans and Democrats,” McLeod said. “Some even tell me, ‘Hey, I voted for Henry (McMaster) and I’ve been a Republican all my life, but they’re trying to send my kid back to school and she’s not able to be vaccinated yet.’ Or ‘They’re doing this, and my kid’s whole class or whole school is being quarantined.’ Or ‘My mother lives with us, and I don’t want her to get sick.’ When your policies and your politics impact people at home, and they can feel that impact and that you don’t care whether they live or die, I mean …”

McLeod expressed the belief that many S.C. voters, not just Democrats, are ready for a change at the top. But she emphasized the voters couldn’t just want change, they had to do something.

Voters, she said, need to stop fighting change and settling for what is familiar if they want S.C. to grow.

“I think we’re not talking about enough, the demographics in South Carolina are changing. Last year, we had a little over a million voters who were registered and did not vote,” McLeod said. “That is, in part, I’m sure, because of the pandemic, but also because they are voters who have not felt a sense of connection to the candidates before who are running. I am committed to changing that because I do believe my connection is pretty strong to the people in this state. I hope to reach the voters in this state and help them understand why the time is now to make those changes. We have a real opportunity.”

Mike McCombs is the editor of The Island News and can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com.

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