UNION COUNTY — More than 25 years of service in the US Army, more than 30 years of service to the community in a variety of positions, and qualifications in numerous fields are what the candidates for the SC House of Representatives District 42 seat have to offer the district’s voters.
The SC House District 42 seat is currently held by Rep. Mike Anthony who in February announced that he would not seek a ninth term in office.
Since Anthony announced he would not seek reelection, three men — Doug Gilliam, Phillip G. Russell II, and Brooks Carwile — have announced that they would seek the Republican nomination for the District 42 seat.
No Democrats are running for the office so the winner of the June 12 Republican primary — or, if one is needed, the June 26 runoff — will represent District 42 — which is made up of all of Union County and part of Laurens County — in the S.C. House of Representatives.
In announcing his candidacy, Gilliam, a retired Command Sergeant Major of the US Army, emphasized his military background. Gilliam, a graduate of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, is a veteran of deployments to Afghanistan where he received a Bronze Star of Valor and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and Kosovo where he received the Legion of Merit.
During his deployment in Kosovo, Gilliam served as the Kosovo Force 16 (KFOR 16) Multi-National Battle Group East Command Sergeant Major. While in Afghanistan he was the Senior NCO of a 16-man Embedded Training Team (ETT) for the Afghan National Army during which his team trained and fought alongside the Afghan Army.
Gilliam retired from the military on June 30, 2015 with more than 26 years of active federal service. At the time of his retirement, Gilliam was the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Command Sergeant Major. In February 2016, Gilliam was inducted into the SC National Guard Enlisted Hall of Fame.
Since his retirement, Gilliam has served as the JROTC Senior Army Instructor at Union County High School. Gilliam is himself a 1983 graduate of Union High School and received an Associates of Art degree from USC-Union and a Bachelor’s degree from Liberty University.
If elected to represent the people of District 42, Gilliam said that “I will be a strong voice for our district and work hard to get things done for Union and Laurens counties and the people of this district. I believe in working together with the other representatives and senators of Union and Laurens to push for what is best for our counties, district and state.“
The issues Gilliam said he hopes to address if elected include infrastructure and economic development.
Concerning infrastructure, Gilliam said “if elected, I hope to address funding for roads. It has come to the point of repair instead of maintaining our road system.”
As for economic growth, Gilliam said “I want to push and sell our counties for economic growth and development. One of the phrases we would be able to say is ‘Lets Grow District 42.’ Union has seen some growth and I want to keep up the push. I want to sit down with the leaders and discuss the issues and address the 5 W’s. Who, What, When, Where and Why we are not growing faster.”
Another issue that Gilliam said he hopes to address as member of the legislature is prayer in schools. Gilliam said he want to see the state legislature work to prayer back in schools. He said that as an instructor at Union County High School “I see the need and possibility to bring that back. I am an advocate for education and our children.”
Gilliam added that prayer played a major role in his decision to run for the District 42 seat, pointing out that he his wife, Pam, and their 16-year-old daughter, Hannah, are active members of Philippi Baptist Church. He said when running for the District 42 seat “was laid on my heart, I prayed for weeks, seeking the Lord’s will and guidance. I did not want it to be my pride or what I wanted to do that lead my decision making. The Lord gave me peace and I knew I was, all in, for this opportunity.”
His candidacy for the District 42 seat is Gilliam’s first bid for public office and he asked for the people of the district to consider supporting him and give him the opportunity to serve them in Columbia.
“This is my first time running for a political seat and I look forward to the opportunity to make a huge, positive difference in House District 42,” Gilliam said. “I ask the people of House District 42 to consider supporting me for my experience, values, selfless service and leadership in growing District 42. I would appreciate the honor and privilege to serve as the representative for Union County and Laurens County at the State House.”
On Feb. 22 Russell announced his intentions to run as a Republican candidate and began by praising Anthony for his service to the community as an educator, football coach, and, for the past 16 years, as District 42 representative. He said that he wanted to personally thank Anthony “for his selfless, dedicated service as well as his professional and compassionate manner.”
Russell said his campaign would focus on job growth and economic development, pointing out that the voters of District 42 will be “selecting the next person who will champion our great area and represent the values and beliefs that make us who we are. My goal moving forward is to continue building important relationships, so District 42 can continue to grow and prosper while maintaining our small-town environment.”
For more than three decades Russell has served Union County in a variety of roles including 32 years as a firefighter; eight years as an employee of the City of Union Utility Department; and 20 years with the South Carolina State Fire senior management team. At the time of his retirement in June 2017, Russell was the manager of the South Carolina Fire Academy. He is also a Past President of Union County Firefighters Association and Union County Fire Chiefs Association Russell also previously served as the chairman of the Union County Land Use Planning Committee chairman; a member of the Stadium Commission; and a 9-1-1 Road and Address Committee member during the implementation of Union County’s E-911 system.
“Through each of these roles, my goal was to serve the citizens, and help however I could,” Russell said.
Russell and his wife, Renee, who recently retired after 31 years as a teacher in the Union County School District, live at 125 Debbie Lane in Union and are members of Philippi Baptist Church. Their daughter, Megan, is a member of the Army National Guard, stationed at the Lauren’s County Armory.
In announcing his candidacy, Carwile listed his “personal qualifications (and) why I should work for you.”
• A Masters Degree in Education which emphasizes in career development.
“I will work with our schools to increase career development to prepare students for tomorrow’s professions.”
• A Bachelors in Criminal Justice
“I will work to see that crime is reduced and work with our law professionals to make a safer South Carolina. I have worked programs to reduce crime. I will foster halfway homes and juvenile camps for non- violent offenders which will save millions of tax dollars while increasing safety. I currently have a bill proposal ready for review called GAVC. This bill will add 2,300 new law officers to the state. This bill will put officers in schools, at school functions and other venues. This program will fall under the governor of the state. This will cost South Carolina $250,000 vs the $60 million the state would need to spend according to the governor. This bill will do for law enforcement what the volunteer firefighter has done for fire suppression.”
• Have held a Top Secret clearance protecting, transferring and destroying classified material with the utmost care.
“I will protect citizens who express their views in reference to fraud, waste and abuse so action can be taken to stop misusing tax dollars. I was on the Air Force Base Commander’s team to stop fraud, waste and abuse.”
• Certified by the air force in PRP, which states he’s been given the highest integrity rating.
“I will put integrity back into state government.”
• As an Air Force Officer-Combat Crew Commander his primary job was strategic nuclear deterrence targeting hostile countries directed by the president and the JCS. Duties included safety and security of 50 nuclear missiles that could hit selected targets anywhere in the world.
• Police Officer at USC while in college.
“I will work tirelessly to see our officers are trained and given the tools to carry out their job. I will work with all citizens to foster better relations with law officers so we can have a safer community for all citizens.”
• For 28 years worked with over 100 companies from NY to California putting hundreds of people to work.
“I will bring companies and jobs to Union. I will assist the development board and use my vast network of contacts. I contacted and encouraged one company to Union which has pumped approximately 50 million dollars into our economy in payroll, taxes and investment and has approximately 100 employees.”
• I set up a program for the air force to save thousands of man hours and millions of dollars without negative impact on our mission. A version of my program was used on six air bases.
Carwile also listed the goals he will work to achieve if elected.
A. Enhance beautification projects
B. Help jump-start our tourism industry.
C. Reduce utility rates.
D. Fix our roads
E. Support/grow USC-Union
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.