UNION — A former mayor of Clinton who has also served on Laurens County Council and in the state legislature is seeking the Republican nomination for the S.C. House District 42 seat.
David Tribble Jr. visited Union Tuesday morning to announce his candidacy and to discuss his ideas for promoting economic development in rural communities like Union County. He said his ideas grew out of his experience working to promote economic development during his two terms as mayor of Clinton in the 1980s and his six years on Laurens County Council in the 1990s.
“I have ideas about how small communities can participate in their own economic development,” Tribble said. “Those ideas include personal responsibility, strategic use of infrastructure, rural friendly funding formulas from the state, professional local management, and some really interesting ideas about how people who are retired, disabled, or on unemployment might be able to make and keep more money.”
Tribble said that personal responsibility involves giving people who are now limited in the amount of income they can earn without losing their benefits the opportunity to earn more and contribute to both the economy and their own well-being.
“There is a group of people in our community who have had to accept early retirement, disability or unemployment,” Tribble said. “Each of those things allows people to make some money, but the amount is limited. I would like to see those people make and keep more money.
“In the case of Social Security, you can keep just over $1,100 a month, lets bump that up by at least $200,” he said. “In the case of disability it is even less.”
As for unemployment, Tribble said he would like to see the amount of time people can receive unemployment benefits extended but the amount they receive gradually reduced while giving them the opportunity to find at least part-time employment and begin moving back into the workforce.
“I’d like to see the term extended to four years, but the amount paid diminished during each month,” Tribble said. “You’re going to get less but you can go out and get a part-time job.”
Tribble said the current system penalizes those who want to work, pointing to the example of an acquaintance of his in Laurens who works part-time, but who told him that when he reaches the limit he can earn he will quit the job to retain his benefits even though he wants to keep working. He said that many people in Union and Laurens counties are in the same situation as his acquaintance is, wanting to work and contribute but afraid of losing the unemployment, retirement or disability benefits.
While the current system provides people with a living, Tribble said it is often a meager living that prevents them from earning a better living that can also contribute to the economy.
“We do need to recognize we have a long-term unemployment issue and that those people can play a part in our future economic development,” Tribble said. “They shouldn’t have to give up everything to take that job. They should be able to create value with their labor and get to keep it.”
Tribble said that another insight he gained as mayor of Clinton and as a member of Laurens County Council is that for a community to attract economic development local initiative and professional management are required.
“ZF Transmissions located in Gray Court, not because of BMW, but because of access to the port (of Charleston) in I-26,” Tribble said. “It chose that plot of land because it was owned by the county, was in one piece, and we’d spent $4 million on sewer that could support industrial, commercial, and residential development.”
Tribble said the infrastructure that brought ZF Transmissions had been placed there years in advance of the company’s arrival and was a necessary investment by Laurens County in itself.
“A big field is not an industrial site,” Tribble said. “You can’t sell a site that’s not suitable.”
In addition to taking the initiative to make the investment in infrastructure to make itself attractive, not only to industry, but also to business and potential residents, Tribble said a community must have in place a local, professional management team who understand the various aspects of economic development. Tribble said that an example of such a professional would be an engineer. He said a company looking to locate in a community wants to talk to its engineers and other economic development professionals more than they do its politicians.
“They are very wary of elected officials,” Tribble said.
While economic development is a local initiative, Tribble said a community’s legislative delegation does a have role to play in the process including helping secure any state funding that might be needed to facilitate local economic initiatives. He said if elected he will work to do this and whatever else he can to assist with economic development in both Union and Laurens counties.
In addition to his service as mayor of Clinton and on the Laurens County Council, Tribble also served a single term in the S.C. House of Representatives representing District 15 which has since been redistricted out of the area. He has also served on the Laurens Hospital Association Board. Tribble has been a strong advocate of community service throughout his leadership roles in the YMCA Board of Directors, Joanna Christ Central Ministries, First Presbyterian Church of Clinton, and the Chairmanship of his industry’s trade association for North and South Carolina.
The father of four and grandfather of two, Tribble is married to Dr. Leta M. Tribble who is the Education Director of the Greenwood Genetic Center and an adjunct professor of Medical Genetics at the University of South Carolina. Tribble was a 1977 graduate from Presbyterian College and was named Outstanding Young Alumnus in 1991. He earned his Master of Public Administration from Clemson University in 2010.
Tribble is seeking the S.C. House District 42 seat currently held by Democrat Mike Anthony who declined to seek another term in order to run for the Democratic nomination for State Superintendent of Education.
The party primaries will be held on June 10 and the general election on Nov. 4.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, Ext. 14.