UNION COUNTY — Union County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair says he is running for reelection as a Democrat despite his disillusionment with political parties and his belief that county government should be nonpartisan.
In March, Sinclair announced that he would seek a second term as supervisor, but did not announce whether he would be running as a Democrat or Republican or independent. He said at the time that he would announce his party affiliation in the near future and his decision would be based on his determination of what would be in the best interests of Union County.
On Sunday, Sinclair filed to run for supervisor as a Democrat and then released a statement explaining his decision. Sinclair pointed out that while several people have asked him which party he planned to affiliate with, most have not. He then explained his decision by, first, giving his political history.
“Let me give you some facts and background that many of you probably do not know about my political history,” Sinclair said. “I ran for county council in the mid-seventies on a Democratic ticket. I have been an official in the Democratic Party when serving as precinct chair.
“I was declared by some to not be ‘Republican enough’ as I sought the appointment of supervisor from Governor Sanford five years ago in 2009,” he said. “I ran as an independent write-in candidate for House District 42, 20 years ago. I ran for supervisor in the Democratic primary in 2010 and won the nomination and faced a Republican challenge after the nomination.”
Sinclair said that his affiliation with both parties at different times, led to his being attacked by both Democrats and Republicans during the 2012 election cycle.
“At a Democratic Party meeting in that election cycle an officer in the party challenged my ‘authenticity’ as a Democrat,” Sinclair said. “Also in that election cycle a friend called me a ‘traitor’ for not running as a Republican.”
The 2012 election was notable for the decision by the State Supreme Court which resulted in Democratic and Republican candidates across the state being removed from the ballot. Though he was not personally affected by the decision, Sinclair protested the decision by declaring himself an independent.
“I could only imagine the feeling of the 17 candidates that was disenfranchised from their party last election cycle on both sides and had to seek petitions to run as a petition candidate, neither party took care of them,” Sinclair said. “At that point I withdrew from party affiliation, I would have regardless of party.
“I lodged protests at several levels in the political world, and who knows, my protests combined with other protests may have helped fix the situation and brought about what exists today where there is an election commission in charge run by someone with a full time job, he said. “Taking that stand is leadership. Leadership that is someone willing to take a stand for policy and fairness regardless of party.”
While he is again running for the Democratic nomination for supervisor, Sinclair said he would prefer that the office and all county offices be nonpartisan.
“My real belief is that at the local level there is no room for party and all should be nonpartisan like school and city council,”Sinclair said. “I have around 40 years total military service, around 30 years total school service, and am in my fifth year as supervisor, all public service or serving people. In all that public service I have not been asked once what party I was a member of nor have I asked anyone what party they were in as we worked together.
“If it is about people, progress, and performance then party is only part of the structure, not the entire structure,” he said. “If it is about party then we dig in, get bogged down, tied up, and sometimes strangled just like Washington does.”
Despite his belief that county offices should be nonpartisan, Sinclair said he decided to run again as a Democrat after another candidate announced that they would seek the party’s nomination for supervisor. Sinclair pointed out that since no Republican has filed to run for the office, the race for supervisor will in all likelihood be settled in the June 10 primary, eliminating the need for a long, drawn out campaign into November.
“I commented when I announced that I would decide on party affiliation based on what I felt was best for Union overall,” Sinclair said. “My opponent in this has announced as a Democrat. If I run as a Democrat and there is no Republican opposition then this is over in two and a half months and our community will not face an eight months long political battle. Our community has battled enough internally.
“The document one signs as he declares his intent to run for office is simply a statement of the party to affiliate with,” Sinclair said. “Affiliation is a nice soft word that we can all abide by.”
District 2 Union County Councilman Frank Hart is also running for the Democratic nomination for supervisor. He announced his party affiliation about the same time he announce his candidacy for the office.
The Democratic and Republican primaries will be held June 10.