If elected to a full term as supervisor, Tommy Sinclair says he will ask Union County Council to dedicate all but $14,000 of his annual salary and benefits to economic development.
A former educator and retired army officer, Sinclair was appointed in October by Gov. Mark Sanford to serve out the unexpired term of former supervisor Donnie Betenbaugh who’d been suspended by Sanford after being indicted on federal drug and corruption charges. An Independent, Sinclair became the first non-Democrat to serve as supervisor of Union County. In accepting the appointment, Sinclair said he would forgo a full salary and serve for $1 a year.
This morning, Sinclair announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination for supervisor and, if elected would accept a salary of no more than $14,000 a year, far less than the more than $80,000 in salary and benefits he would normally receive as supervisor. Sinclair said he would ask county council to dedicate the balance of his salary and benefits to economic development.
“I will serve at the annual Social Security allowed rate for my age which currently is about $14,000 per year,” Sinclair said. “I will ask council by budget process to earmark the remainder of my salary to include indirect cost for me to dedicate specifically to economic development and job creation in Union.”
While he took office as an Independent, Sinclair said he decided to run for a full term as a Democrat in the interest of greater cooperation in county government.
“I pride myself as I think many do that I support a person or an ideal and not a party,” Sinclair said. “I can tell you in my 120 days (as supervisor) and my interaction with our Sens. Peeler, Martin, and Coleman, Rep. Mike Anthony, nor any county elected official has anyone ever mentioned party to me in the performance of my job, nor as a hint of requirement for service or cooperation. They have all been about what is best for Union. In support of continued and growing team work I will seek the Democratic nomination for supervisor. I look forward to the campaign.”
In his only previous race for public office, Sinclair sought the SC House District 42 seat as an Independent in 2000.
Prior to being appointed supervisor, Sinclair served 27 years as an educator and administrator in a variety of positions at the middle and high school levels for the Union County School District including teacher, assistant principal, principal, adult school director and assistant superintendent. He served in the US Army for three years and then 35 years in the South Carolina National Guard retiring with the rank of brigadier general. For a 10-year period in the 1970s and 1980s, he was co-owner of a construction business.
Sinclair said it was the enocuragement he received from the public and from family and friends that helped him decide to run.
“In the 120 plus days in this position I have learned more than in any other 120 day period in my life,” Sinclair said. “There have been some challenging days that required hard and sometimes unpopular decisions. The challenging days have been made easier as we grow in teamwork and cooperation with and from other bodies, both private and public. I am personally uplifted and gratified almost daily as people come by my open door or I see them out and they express confidence and a sense of brightness in our future.
“I spent a day with my children and grandchildren recently as I contemplated the full implications of giving up much of my interaction with them allowed by retirement should I be elected,” Sinclair said. “I have my family’s blessing. I relayed the conversation to a trusted friend and said I hated to give that up although I felt like I could be of service in the position. My friend, who can put things in perspective said you are the one who always said at Sims that every child was somebody’s child and there are a lot of children and grandchildren in Union that you can help insure their future … and they all are someone’s child or grandchild.”