The Union County Democratic Party held its county convention at the Union County Courthouse Monday evening, featuring elections for party and convention officers as well as a keynote address from Union County’s state representative.
Union County Democratic Party Chair Ann Stevens welcomed those in attendance Monday and recognized local officials who were present — County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair, Sheriff David Taylor and county council members Dora Martin-Jennings and Joan Little. Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter of Orangeburg was also present.
Rep. Mike Anthony delivered the keynote address at Monday’s convention, and he began by urging participation within the party.
“If we don’t participate in the process, then we don’t have anything to complain about,” Anthony said.
He recalled standing at the 50-yard line while coaching the Yellow Jackets in a state championship game when Dillon’s Coach Jackie Hayes — who was already a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives — suggested that Anthony run for office. Anthony discussed how little he knew about politics at the time.
“Now, I’m 10 years into this stuff, and I’m still just a person who wants to help people,” Anthony said.
Anthony went on to say that he does not always just go along with his party.
“I’m independent thinking,” he said. “I’m going to do what I think is best — regardless! You didn’t send me down there to vote straight Democrat did you?”
Although Anthony indicated that he does not always agree with his party 100 percent, he made it clear that he is a Democrat for a reason.
“I’ve heard people say the Republican party is just the old Democratic party — BULL!” Anthony said. “My dad was a Democrat all his life, and he didn’t think the way those people think.”
When discussing the Republican party, Anthony’s comments focused on those with whom he is most familiar — the Republicans who dominate the South Carolina state government. He pointed out that there are 76 Republicans in the House of Representatives, compared to 48 Democrats.
“We’re fighting an uphill battle every day,” Anthony said. “We can’t stop one thing coming through the House right now. They’re going to win if they want it.”
Anthony said Republicans have had full control in the state since 1994, and he then asked and answered a question.
“When we have a super majority, what happens? We make a lot of bad decisions.”
Anthony — who was formerly a teacher and head football coach within the Union County School District — also discussed education. He said that there are around 700,000 children who attend public schools in South Carolina, while there are around 65,000 enrolled in private education.
“And they’re (the Republican party) catering to those 65,000?” Anthony asked in near disbelief. “Sometimes I see Haley signs in teachers’ yards and I want to say to teachers, ‘WAKE UP!’”
Anthony also pointed out that Democrats are often criticized for their spending, but that is not the case when it comes to the South Carolina state government.
“These guys are spending like drunken sailors,” Anthony said, explaining that the state had nearly $1 billion of surplus to work with this year, of which $500 million was recurring.
Anthony said this is an indicator that our economy is improving.
“That says something about what our current president is doing, but they (the Republican party) only want to talk about gloom and doom,” he said.
Although Anthony began by downplaying his knowledge of politics, he closed his speech by revealing something he has learned through his political experience.
“What I’ve learned about politics is when it’s about ‘me and mine,’ it’s important,” he said.
Anthony said that he is sometimes questioned about actions he takes. He said he has been asked why he would help someone be moved from one prison to another. He offered an example of a situation in which an inmate’s grandmother could not drive all the way across the state to see her grandson.
“People will ask me, ‘But why do you care?’” Anthony said. “We care about people, not what people have. What matters is what’s in your heart.”
For more information about local Democratic party activities and related matters, call Ann Stevens at 427-6887.