BUFFALO — Local races can have a big impact on turnout and affect not only the outcomes of those races but also races beyond the local level including the presidency of the United States of America.
That was the message SC Senate District 13 Sen. Shane Martin brought to those attending the Union County Republican Party’s Campaign 2016 Kickoff at Midway BBQ Monday evening. Martin was one of several Republican candidates running in the Nov. 8 general election in Union County to address the crowd during Monday’s kickoff. He spoke about the importance of local races in promoting turnout at the polls and how turnout for those races can impact races at the state, federal and even national level.
Martin said that when there are no local races on the ballot it can depress voter turnout, even during a presidential election. He said that people may feel that since there are no local races on the ballot in their community they have no incentive to vote and stay home, even if doing so means they will not be voting for president. Without the added and crucial motivation of local races to get them to the polls, Martin said people may feel that their vote for president will not count and so therefore they stay home, even at the risk of someone they don’t approve of winning the White House.
This year, however, Martin said that people who sat out previous presidential elections have a powerful motivation not to do so again because they don’t want Hillary Clinton to be elected president. Martin said he believes these people are going to come out and vote because of their opposition to a second Clinton presidency.
As an example of this, Martin, an engineer who travels a great deal as part of his work, discussed his experiences in other states, most recently Wisconsin. Martin said that in traveling throughout that state he saw American flags flying everywhere he went along with campaign signs for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. He did not, however, see any signs for Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate.
Furthermore, Martin said during his travels by plane around the country, he strikes up conversations with his fellow passengers. He said that in his conversations during those travels he has yet to hear anyone say they are supporting Clinton.
While the possibility of a Clinton presidency is motivating people who sat out previous elections to go to the polls, Martin said that local races are still the most powerful inducement for people to come out and vote. Martin pointed out that local races like the ones on the ballot in Union County involve candidates who are known by the people in the community, friends and neighbors who are all the more likely to come out to the polls and cast their ballots. He said that people who come to vote in local elections will also vote on races further up the ballot.
In addition to motivating people to turnout for the polls, Martin said local races are an opportunity for those who are planning to vote to reach out to others in the community and encourage them to vote as well. Martin urged those present to talk to and call people and encourage them to vote in November, pointing out that increased turnout can have an impact on races at all levels including local, state, federal, and national.
Also speaking at Monday’s kickoff was US House of Representatives 5th District Rep. Mick Mulvaney who commented on the growth of the Union County Republican Party.
“Look at this room, the room is full,” Mulvaney said referring to the crowd gathered at Midway BBQ Monday evening. “I’ve only represented Union County about four years but my guess is the Republican Party here has not been that active, but the room is full. I’d imagine that 10 years ago this would have been like Lancaster County and you could have had this meeting in a phone booth, but now this room is full.”
Mulvaney expressed confidence in the Republican Party’s chances in November, pointing out that there is a great deal on interest in many races in the 5th Congressional District. He also said that the GOP is looking very strong beyond the 5th District, especially in South Carolina as a whole.
Union County Clerk of Court candidate Amy Austin also spoke Monday, discussing good leadership.
“Good leadership skills is what the office needs, what the county needs,” Austin said. “Being a good leader does not mean you are a dictator, but a delegator. Being a good delegator means taking the time to get to know your employees’ strengths and weaknesses so that they can perform at their highest potential for the betterment of the office.”
Another of the candidates speaking at Monday’s kickoff was Tommy Mann who is running for the SC House District 42 seat.
In his remarks, Mann emphasized that “together we can demand better. We can demand better schools, better roads, better finances, a better way of life, and a better future.”
Concerning schools, Mann said that as a substitute teacher with the Union County School District has has seen first hand what under funding can do to the schools and their students. While it is not simply a matter of throwing money at the problem, Mann said he feels the district is constantly shortchanged when it comes to the level of funding it receives from the state, something he will work to change if elected.
While he is committed to repairing the county and the state’s roads, Mann reiterated his opposition to new taxes, including a gas tax hike. Instead, he proposed using the $1.3 billion state budget surplus and eliminating non-essential projects until the county and the state’s infrastructure is improved.
As for a better way of life, Mann said he will work with local officials to help attract new industry and business and the jobs they create to Union County.
The need for a better future was also emphasized by David Sinclair who is running for the Union County Council District 3 seat.
“We’re paving the way for our youth’s tomorrow,” Sinclair said. “I want to make Union a better place for my daughter, my son-in-law, their children, and your children.”
While others speak of economic growth, Sinclair said he wants to stabilize Union County’s standard of living and its environment.
“We need to clean up Union so we can show it proudly,” Sinclair said. “I’ve been asked what’s my plan to grow Union, but my emphasis isn’t on growth but on the stability of our economy.”
Sinclair said he wants to see the county have a local government that is easily accessible by the public and easy to work with. He also listed the characteristics of a good public servant as being honesty, integrity, and good communication skills.
“I think I possess those traits,” Sinclair said.
In his address, Jeff Bailey, candidate for the Union County Sheriff’s Office, discussed his ideas for the future of law enforcement in Union County, particularly in the areas of community policing and combating the drug crisis.
“I want to be more proactive than reactive,” Bailey said about community policing. “I want officers to be more in touch with the community and have the relationships with the community that would improve the image of the department.”
As for dealing with the drug situation in the county, Bailey said “I want to increase the size of the narcotics division and form relationships with the other agencies in order combat the massive problems we have with crack, meth, and prescription drugs.”
Bailey said that successfully combating the drug problem in the county will also significantly reduce property crime in the county as well.
Union County Council District 3 Republican candidate David Siclair (left) speaks with Mark Cathcart (right) during the Union County Republican Party’s Campaign 2016 Kickoff at Midway BBQ Monday evening.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.