• 2020 Candidates

  • The Chamber asked the local and state candidates to respond to a few questions regarding themselves and their plan to support local businesses if they are elected/re-elected. Below you will see responses specifically from the following candidates:

     

    Candidates for State Senate, District 27

    Note: The other candidate for this seat, Penry Gustafson, did not submit responses by the deadline.

    Vincent Sheheen

    1. What unique qualifications, education and work experience do you have that will most benefit the citizens of Kershaw County if you are elected/re-elected to the state legislature?

    I have spent my entire life in our community, going to school here, volunteering here, working here, raising my children here, and trying to make it a better place.  Although it may seem old fashioned; I work with people on both sides of the aisle. The person matters a whole lot more than the party.  We need that approach now more than ever.  I have a proven track record of delivering results for our community.  Whether it is helping repave roads, supporting teachers, working with small businesses, or just helping a person with a problem- my job is to get things done.   Being an effective Senator, especially when you don’t represent one of the three biggest counties in our state, takes hard work and a deep understanding of how our state’s government works.

    1. South Carolina’s high tax rate on manufacturers and commercial businesses is a concern for existing and potential South Carolina businesses. What would you propose to create a more balanced and equitable tax structure?

    I am a small business owner and know what it’s like to run small businesses in our State. We have some of the highest property tax rates for industries in the nation, and I am successfully fighting to reduce them.  I have led the effort to reduce property taxes on our small, homegrown businesses here in South Carolina. In 2017 I led the effort to reduce business property taxes in the S.C. Infrastructure and Economic Reform Act. Once this new property tax valuation goes fully into effect, it will reduce property tax bills by about $50 Million statewide.  This change will be a tremendous help, but there is more to do to get light commercial business’s property taxes down as well.  My job is not to spout political talking points; but to get things done.

    1. Kershaw County is geographically and socio-economically diverse. How will/do you balance the interests of the different areas and people you represent?

    Representing an area as diverse as Kershaw County requires finding creative solutions to a wide array of issues. There’s not a one size fits all policy that will work for every community or every family, so we have to find ways to help as many people as possible by listening to their specific needs. One thing that does unite us is our children and grandchilden.  I am the son of a teacher and the father of public school kids.  Much of my public career is spent fighting for our schools.

    I worked to bring full day 4K to kids in Kershaw County and want to continue to grow this highly successful program.  I played a very large role in bringing a Central Carolina Technical College campus to our community and want to help it grow and prosper. I have helped to conserve thousands of acres that God gave us in our County for future generations and to spur tourism to help our businesses.  On all these fronts, there is more to be done.

    1. What do you think your role is in bringing business to Kershaw County? What actions would you take in the state legislature to support businesses in Kershaw County - to improve the business climate and create jobs, especially in light of the pandemic?

    When our community had an early outbreak of the Corona Virus, I helped lead the effort to obtain PPE supplies and other needed support from the State of South Carolina.  Leaders lead in times of crisis.     

    Kershaw County is a great place to do business, and we need to make sure that companies consider us when they’re looking to make major investments. My role is helping to ensure a quality education for our people exists; working to reduce property taxes on business; acting as an ambassador for visiting corporate leaders; and investing in our community myself.  I will continue to oppose our tax dollars being given to billionaire corporations while we neglect our home grown businesses.  It’s just not smart business to invest in foreign corporations when we don’t invest in ourselves.

  • Candidates for State House of Representatives, District 52

    Laurie Slade Funderburk

    Rep. Laurie Slade Funderburk

    1. What unique qualifications, education and work experience do you have that will most benefit the citizens of Kershaw County if you are elected/re-elected to the state legislature?

    I have been honored to represent the people of Kershaw County in our General Assembly. I love our County and have been involved in many organizations that serve our citizens. As a small businesswoman, I know what it is like to meet a payroll. As a lifetime resident, I understand what issues we face and the hurdles we must overcome to keep us moving forward. I have established strong working relationships with other local and state leaders in order to maximize resources available to the county and deliver effective and efficient services.

    1. South Carolina’s high tax rate on manufacturers and commercial businesses is a concern for existing and potential South Carolina businesses. What would you propose to create a more balanced and equitable tax structure?

    I believe that our businesses should be allowed to operate with as little interference from the government as possible. Just this past month I supported a business license reform bill that significantly streamlines the process for businesses, saving them time and money. However, creating an equitable tax structure is the government’s job. There is a problem in our system where the commercial and industrial property tax is one of the highest in the country and renters pay three times the property tax (through their rent) than do homeowners. This situation has also created problems in how we fund education in SC. The SC Chamber and SC Realtors have commissioned a comprehensive study into SC’s property tax system. The results are forthcoming later this year, and I look forward to seeing the data and supporting solutions to this complex issue.

    1. Kershaw County is geographically and socio-economically diverse. How will/do you balance the interests of the different areas and people you represent?

    I view the diversity as a strength. Although they may be different, there are opportunities everywhere in Kershaw County. I value the relationships I’ve built and the knowledge I have gained to be able to help address the needs of our citizens whether it is in Liberty Hill, US 1, or Rabon’s Crossroads. Making sure that Kershaw County is a great place to live, work, and do business for everyone is something that I strive for every day. A growing economy provides opportunities for everyone.

    1. What do you think your role is in bringing business to Kershaw County? What actions would you take in the state legislature to support businesses in Kershaw County - to improve the business climate and create jobs, especially in light of the pandemic?

    My role is to help create an environment in which businesses can grow and flourish. I have been presented the “Business Advocate Award” by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce for my work supporting business in South Carolina. Businesses want stability and predictability. They want a dependable and well-trained workforce that is the result of excellent schools. They want a community that invests in itself in order to have a high quality of life. And businesses need a healthy infrastructure — such as high-speed connectivity, roads, and bridges — all of which are and will remain a high priority for me. These resources will encourage, not discourage, companies to locate here.

     

     

  •  

    Vic Dabney

    1. What unique qualifications, education and work experience do you have that will most benefit the citizens of Kershaw County if you are elected/re-elected to the state legislature?

    I proudly served 28 years in the U.S. Army. There I learned how to make serious decisions, many of which carried far-reaching consequences. While deployed to various parts of the world, where I had limited time and resources, I had to be able to come up with viable solutions quickly; decisions that had to work or lives could be lost. Career politicians think it’s easier to just throw money at a problem and kick the can down the road for someone else to deal with later. Not me. My problem solving skills will work well in the legislature where courageous leadership is desperately needed.

    1. South Carolina’s high tax rate on manufacturers and commercial businesses is a concern for existing and potential South Carolina businesses. What would you propose to create a more balanced and equitable tax structure?

    I’m one of the few private citizens, non-business owners who is a member of the Chamber of Commerce. And, as a private citizen, I understand how vital it is to our economy for local businesses to succeed and prosper. We must lower taxes on corporations and businesses and cut the endless, stifling bureaucratic regulations. It's really that simple. Government has no business in the business world. Private citizens run business, government should run government, and running a business or economic development is not a function of the government. Less Government=More Business…period!

    1. Kershaw County is geographically and socio-economically diverse. How will/do you balance the interests of the different areas and people you represent?

    First of all, we are one county, and we should all have the same or similar interest—seeing Kershaw County flourish for future generations. As State Representative, I'll be the voice for the taxpayers. To me, a taxpayer in West Wateree and a taxpayer in East Camden are the same, they are both trying to make a decent living, raise a family, and enjoy life and liberty. Folks in every part of Kershaw County want less government involvement in their lives, lower taxes, and fewer regulations.  We're one county, and I’m going to look out for all of Kershaw County. It doesn't matter which side of the river you live on, our interests are identical. People everywhere tell me they want taxes reduced, less red tape, and frivolous spending stopped. As State Representative, I’ll be committed to making that happen.

    1. What do you think your role is in bringing business to Kershaw County? What actions would you take in the state legislature to support businesses in Kershaw County - to improve the business climate and create jobs, especially in light of the pandemic?

    The best thing we can do to attract new business here is to get the government out of the way. South Carolina is leading the U.S. in attracting new industry to our state; but Kershaw County is not doing so well. In fact, under our current leadership, Kershaw County is nearly last in the state as far as economic development is concerned. We are not just getting beat by the Upstate and Charleston; we are falling behind our neighboring counties. Lancaster, Fairfield, Chesterfield, and Sumter Counties are all bringing in new industry while Kershaw County seems to be left behind. Current leaders said that new "speck" buildings would bring in business, so we went into debt to the tune of a 17.2 million dollar economic development bond; but the buildings remain empty. Then they said that new schools would do the trick, so we went into debt for another 129 million dollars; but still no new industry. More government involvement is not the answer. Less government, lower taxes, and reduced regulations is what will attract people and business to our great community!

  • Candidates for Mayor, City of Camden

    Note: The other candidate for this seat, Jose Missouri, did not submit responses by the deadline.

    Alfred Mae Drakeford

    Alfred Mae Drakeford

    1. What unique qualifications, education, and work experience do you have that will most benefit the citizens of Camden if you are re-elected Mayor?

    As an active leader and upstanding, principled citizen of Camden, I focus my energies on ensuring that all citizens benefit from my service. I grew up in Camden, graduated from the University of South Carolina, worked in quality and training at DuPont, and served and chaired on national and local organizations.  I have always lived in Camden and have always been involved for the betterment of our hometown. I know Camden and I know its people. With 12 years as a City of Camden Councilmember and with four years as your Mayor, I am qualified and I desire to serve you for another four years. My proven record highlights my qualifications, education and work experience in action! Please vote.

    1. With the pandemic’s impact on the local economy and employment, what support do you think the City should/can provide to local businesses?

    Businesses of all sizes and types are being impacted by the pandemic – every single individual in Camden is being impacted. Just as the City has done since March 2020, we will continue to openly communicate with business owners and residents—offering updates, announcing grants/loans, etc. The staff will continue to provide workshops and one-to-one appointments to assist business owners with assistance applications and ensuring that available services/resources are known to anyone in need. The Council will continue the mask ordinance as appropriate. We have and we will continue to address issues that arise.   We will make every effort to be problem solvers. We strongly encourage all citizens, not just local business owners, to attend City Council Meetings and to contact Councilmembers and staff. 

    1. If you had to choose one issue that you think is most important to address if you are re-elected, what is the issue and why is it so important?

    The City of Camden has several issues which can be worked simultaneously – focusing on just one is shortsighted in what the City can/should be addressing for our entire community.  Economic development, community safety, infrastructure and combating the impacts of the pandemic are major issues that deserve continual attention in Camden.  Everything that involves the quality of life of our community is important. We have new businesses, an environmental park, new playground equipment, utility undergrounding and a pipeline full of new initiatives.  We will also continue to seek funding streams/grants that improve our community without adding additional burdens the tax payers. I am very confident that as we work together, we will continue to improve our City on all fronts. Let’s keep Camden moving forward.

    1. Cities across America are struggling with police shootings, protest, and rioting.  What additional steps, if any, do you think should/can be taken in Camden to foster positive relationships between citizens?

    For decades, our Camden Police Department has operated on a strong foundation of “community policing.” Much of this foundation was funded via grants. Specific outreach programs, such as Police in the Park, bring together many vested organizations to assist/address issues before they become law enforcement issues. Since 2015, our Department has partnered with Serve & Connect, a SC non-profit, dedicated to positive change through police and community partnerships. Our city invests in additional training, beyond national and local requirements, to ensure our officers are ready to serve safely.  We are currently looking at additional simulator training equipment. Clearly, Camden embraced positive relationships long before struggles erupted nationwide. But, these newly highlighted struggles are affording us additional opportunities to assess our programs, answer questions and find new solutions.

  • Candidates for Council, City of Camden

    Eve Carlin

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    1. What unique qualifications, education and work experiences do you have that will most benefit the citizens of Camden if you are elected/re-elected Mayor/to the City Council?

    My name is Eve Carlin. I am a pro-business candidate for the Camden City Council. I have a Law Degree, a Masters in Public Administration and a Bachelors in History and Political Science. My college junior year abroad was spent in Oxford, England. I have been a business law instructor for over 20 years. I have taught business law for adult students in Montreat College's Charlotte campus (20 years); traditional undergraduate students at Johnson and Wales University Charlotte campus (12 years) and associate students at CCTC in both the Camden and Sumter campuses (4 years). I have mentored hundreds of business students. I have helped them with their business plans, contracts, and supported their start-up businesses. I am a creative doer who likes to think outside the box and get things done. For example, there are many creative approaches out there to get a business off the ground and continue with success. I will help in any way I can. I am compassionate, use common sense and am committed to our business community.

    1. With the pandemic’s impact on the local economy and employment, what support do you think the City should/provide to local businesses?

    The city must support businesses in new and creative ways. The traditional approaches are tax incentives, public/private partnerships and city events to bring in tourists and money. Moreover, in Camden there has been nice support for developers to restore historic buildings and put in businesses. All good! But new ideas are needed. For example, we need to resurrect our downtown merchant association for merchants to have more dialogues and share best practices. In addition, I would like to form a small business advisory committee to meet with me periodically to advise, and to collaborate. Another idea I'd like to see implemented is having a law firm, specializing in business law, do a "Business Lunch n' Law" series with small businesses. I did this in Charlotte (and Asheville) for over 100 small businesses. There was excellent feedback. I can share this idea further with the Chamber. Finally, as a Council member I would like to support more of our youth in business. Let's have a Youth businessperson of the year! Let's team up with CCTC and USC for business guest speakers, seminars and so on. Let's do more business programs at our libraries. Let's get more business interns for our local businesses. These are just a few ideas!

    1. If you had to choose one issue that you think is most important to address if you are elected/re-elected, what is the issue and why is it so important?

    The most important issue to me is our area's economic vitality. We need to be economically strong. With a vital economy all else can flow. This includes more dollars for our Arts Center and cultural events, more money for education, more money for recreational programs for our youth, and so on. Notice that I used the phrase economic vitality, not economic growth. I believe vitality is what's needed going into 2021. Vitality includes creativity, flexibility and adaptation. Businesses do this naturally, and even more so in 2020 with this dreaded virus creating business havoc. We need to be even more vital going into 2021. Perhaps Council's first major order of business should be an economic summit. Let's assess where we are and creatively discuss how we can proceed going forward. This summit can be coordinated with the Chamber.

    1. Cities across America are struggling with police shootings, protests and rioting.  What additional steps, if any, do you think should/can be taken in Camden to foster positive relationships between citizens?

    We are very fortunate in Kershaw County to have an excellent sheriff and an excellent Camden City Police Chief. Our law enforcement agencies are top notch! Let me be clear: I am totally against defunding our police. They require our support. More resources and training must increase -- not decrease-- for our law enforcement. Our law enforcement agencies have fostered good community relations with our citizens. Can they improve? Sure. Most things can. So here are a few ideas...

    Let's create neighborhood associations in the city of Camden. Other cities have them. These associations invite speakers in (such as police chief, deputies etc.), have events and so on. The associations create even more positive relationships with law enforcement. Let's have town meetings in the City. Encourage civic participation and engagement! Town meetings can have topics, such as Policing and our Community. Finally, let's have a few spring picnics with law enforcement employees and our community. The City Council can explore how these events can be funded. I suspect creative ideas will flow for funding sources. Food brings people together! Of course, we will have to watch CDC guidelines for such events.

  •  

    Joanna Craig

    Councilwoman Joanna Craig

    1. What unique qualifications, education and work experiences do you have that will most benefit the citizens of Camden if you are elected/re-elected Mayor/to the City Council?

    I believe my USC degree in psychology and nearly 50 years of local work experiences help me to make solid decisions that benefit Camden citizens.

    I am honored every time I represent the City at the ribbon cutting of a new Camden store or business. Each reflects a gutsy entrepreneurial spirit that reminds me of my co-ownership of a Dusty Bend “Mom & Pop” store.  Retail is where I learned to anticipate customer wants, cultivate repeat business, interpret market trends, and deliver desirable shopping experiences.  

    As Executive Director of Historic Camden Revolutionary Site, I learned the complexities of running a multipurpose nonprofit (museum, tourist attraction, National Park Affiliate, gift shop, and community park). Creative management skills and a fiscally conservative budget approach were musts. Partnering with the Kershaw County School District and other organizations produced engaging programs and events that had community appeal and brought tourists.

     Skills in decision making, problem solving, collaborating, and compromise have been outcomes of my city government work. My stint on the Planning Commission provided tools to assess zoning requests and interpret data for the City’s Comprehensive Plan. My current City Council term rewards me with what we have accomplished and where we are headed!

    1. With the pandemic’s impact on the local economy and employment, what support do you think the City should/provide to local businesses?

    The City’s participation in a three-year program offered by Main Street SC provides the knowledge, training and skills to revitalize downtown commercial districts. The manager of our program works diligently with merchants and event planners to make our historic downtown appealing and vibrant. The popular “Shop Local,” campaign, developed with the KC Chamber, has been reintroduced to support struggling shops and restaurants during this time of Covid. Similar in goal will be the holiday season’s Shop Small and Small Biz Saturday. Monthly, the “Downtown Camden” e-mail newsletter provides merchants information regarding retail seminars, training sessions, resources, grants, community events and promotions.

    The City continues to offer tax and reimbursement incentives for commercial building restoration, also façade grants. Such inducements are attracting private investment in niche retailing and upper-floor apartments.

    Our local businesses will reap the benefits of the City’s focus on strategic tourism development, which will bring tourists who spend money in our shops, restaurants, entertainment venues and other amenities. The City’s investment in the new Welcome Center, which features exhibits pertaining to Camden’s vital role in the American Revolution, will strengthen the City’s goal to make Camden a tourist destination and “a place to shop, invest and visit.”

    1. If you had to choose one issue that you think is most important to address if you are elected/re-elected, what is the issue and why is it so important?

    The # 1 issue I hear on the campaign trail is the same complaint I heard four years ago:  Lack of Communication -- between City and our residents (“Nobody ever gets back with me!”); between City and County; between the Downtown & Dusty Bend merchants; between nonprofits, the neighborhoods. . . the list goes on. 

    I have advocated for a Community Relations Liaison – your direct link to City government. The liaison could be a new staff person or current staff who communicates with the public using telephone, email, website, Facebook, or other social media. The Liaison would answer questions and get problems solved quickly especially in regards to issues such as road repair, utility problems, referrals and availability of community resources.

    Some mentioned the City’s website, an important communications tool, needs to be more User Friendly. Not everyone knows if you click on “sitemap” you get the list of city services and not a map.  An on-line service page where you can type in a comment or complaint to a specific department and receive an answer in a time manner is necessary.

    1. Cities across America are struggling with police shootings, protests and rioting.  What additional steps, if any, do you think should/can be taken in Camden to foster positive relationships between citizens?

    1. Resurrect the Kershaw County Human Relations Commission (KCHRC) to include City-County government representatives, drug and mental health agencies, and citizens.  The purpose: to advocate, enforce and promote equality in housing, employment practices, education, justice, and homelessness.

    2. Our award-winning Camden Police Department (CPD) works closely with the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Department. Both are committed to improving racial and community relations.

    Community policing builds solid neighborhood-police relationships, public trust and safer communities.  The CPD has a strong community policing program including the popular Police in the Park events and other friendly outreach programs. It also has hired three COPS officers with grants awarded from the Community-oriented policing services program (COPS).

    CPD officers receive training in crisis intervention and identifying symptoms of mental illness.  They do not have on-duty time to handle and deescalate mental health situations and make follow-up referrals.

    If proposed, I support a CPD funding request to employ a mental health trained professional using grants or other revenues to pay for the position.  This professional could be a social worker or police and public safety psychologist.

    3. I recommend town hall meetings to inform citizen of community services and organizations, plus community gardens.

  •  

    Stephen Smoak

     

    1. What unique qualifications, education and work experience do you have that will most benefit the citizens of Camden if you are elected/re-elected Mayor/to the City Council?

    I am a husband, father, former county councilman, attorney, and small business owner. Each of these perspectives help shape the decisions I make as an elected representative. As someone who works in town every day and supports a young family, I have a genuine vested concern for its future. I have been greatly influenced by this community and its people which is why I chose to raise my family here in my hometown. I am keenly familiar with the issues affecting us. With my prior experience in public service, I have developed important relationships with people in both the public and private sectors. My educational background is as follows: Camden High School (1992) Furman University (B.S. 1996) University of South Carolina (J.D. 2000)

    1. With the pandemic’s impact on the local economy and employment, what support do you think the City should/can provide to local businesses?

    The city should play a role in supporting local businesses. There are also times when the best thing we can do is to get out of the way of business. Good government knows when to do that. For example, the city can keep utility costs and property taxes down to help local business compete and grow. This will continue to be a priority for me. Our city staff helps local businesses with grant opportunities and other incentives for investment. We should continue to offer these services and also offer assistance in navigating the process of opening a business. I am pleased with the city’s continued emphasis in helping ensure that we have a trained workforce for our local businesses. Through our cooperation with Central Carolina Technical College (CCTC), we are able to offer free tuition to city and county residents. I support these efforts. As we work to move forward, there is always a delicate balance to attain: Camden can be a wonderful destination for tourists and visitors; but it also needs to be a destination for our young people to be able to return home to work and prosper.

    1. If you had to choose one issue that you think is most important to address if you are elected/re-elected, what is the issue and why is it so important?

    We must always support our local businesses, and I will fight to continue this effort. In a city like Camden, local businesses are the lifeblood of the community. Business growth results in more jobs for our citizens, and it ultimately alleviates the tax burden on individuals and existing businesses. With more local jobs, our citizens do not endure the long commutes to other counties for work. Residents can spend less of their take-home pay on gasoline and have more time to be with family. Even in the midst of the pandemic, progress is evident in our downtown area as the storefronts are being filled. There is much more to be accomplished.

    1. Cities across America are struggling with police shootings, protests and rioting. What additional steps, if any, do you think should/can be taken in Camden to foster positive relationships between citizens?

    More than anything we need to listen to each other. Unfortunately our current culture urges us to shout louder at each other until the loudest voice is heard. I have heard it said that “common experiences bind us together.” We should spend more time together in dialogue and understanding. The city needs to continue our community policing efforts. It is essential to provide the best training possible for our officers (mental health, crisis intervention, etc.). I plan to address our police department’s salary needs to ensure the hiring and retention of quality officers. Additionally, our community is blessed to have incredible non-profit organizations like the ALPHA Center, Food for the Soul, and others. We must strengthen our partnerships with these organizations to better serve our community’s needs.

  •  Candidates for School Board District 1

    Note: The other candidate for this seat, Anthony Bell, did not submit responses by the deadline.

    Lisa Carter

    1. What unique qualifications, education and work experience do you have that will most benefit the school district if you are elected/re-elected to the School Board?

    I am a retired educator and a mother of three children who attended and benefited from Kershaw County Schools from kindergarten to graduation. I have teaching experience in elementary and middle school, regular education and special education from a number of districts across the state. I have worked in Charleston County, Williamsburg County, Florence District 3 and Kershaw County. I have taught regular education (grades K, 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8) and special education (grades K-8). I have been an assistant principal at Blaney Elementary and I later served as the principal at Blaney Elementary School for eight years. I served as Coordinator for Common Core Standards, and in my final four years in the district, I served as the Coordinator for Special Services. I am currently contracted with the district to observe and support Induction Teachers. These experiences allow me to bring to the table a view and a voice for all of the stakeholders in our district.

    1. Because of Act 388, school district funding is dependent upon businesses for a portion of its income. If the district leadership suggested the need for a mileage increase, how would you balance the needs of the district with the current economic downturn and challenges for businesses?

    The Cares Act was enacted to assist school districts during these unprecedented times to lessen the economic impact the pandemic would have on funding. ACT 388 has the provision that if any district has a shortfall of taxes, the state is supposed to cover that shortfall. While the districts have received money from the Cares Act, districts must be fiscally responsible to ensure those funds are used wisely. This is not a time to purchase programs or materials that are not essential. We must review programs, products and services to make sure there is no duplication. The priority of our funds should always be to provide teachers what they need in their classrooms to best serve the children.

    1. What are the factors on which you will/do base your decisions as a school board member?

    My decisions will always be based on what is best for students and teachers. I am not running to be popular or political but to serve the children of Kershaw County and ensure that our district produces graduates that can be independent, productive citizens.

    1. You represent a specific part of the county…how will you balance the needs of your specific constituents with the needs of the overall school district?

    As a board member, I represent the entire district. The needs of all students, teachers, and schools are not limited to my represented area. The success of all students has no attendance zones.

  •  

    Todd McDonald

    1. What unique qualifications, education and work experience do you have that will most benefit the school district if you are elected/re-elected to the School Board? 

    I grew up in East Camden, graduated from Camden High School, graduated from The Citadel, and then moved to Elgin and eventually Lugoff where I have resided for the last 19 years. I served a term on the Elgin Town Council, have owned several small businesses and have been married to an educator for 26 years. I have 3 kids that all went through Kershaw County Public Schools and I have spent the past 4 years on the KCSD School Board as a Trustee, where I was selected to Co-Chair the Ad-Hoc Committee to study School Resource Officer funding and growth. As a business owner and as the operations manager of small to mid-size companies, I understand financial reporting and the impact of both profit and losses as well as measures needed to address both.

    1. Because of Act 388, school district funding is dependent upon businesses for a portion of its income. If the district leadership suggested the need for a millage increase, how would you balance the needs of the district with the current economic downturn and challenges for businesses?

    Act 388 did a number on the schools in the state as well as small business owners in our community. I am fully aware that every millage increase has a direct negative impact to our local businesses. I will continue to be cautious in recommending millage increases. I also think it is prudent to grow economic development around retail businesses. We have been fortunate over the last several years in that we have been able to balance our budget without the need of millage increase. In the coming years, it will be imperative for Kershaw County, our municipalities, businesses, and the school district to work together closely to foster an environment for economic growth to benefit all.

    1. What are the factors on which you will/do base your decisions as a school board member? 

    When I make decisions as a board trustee, I will continue to look at each one through the following lenses: Will it keep our students and faculty safe? Will it provide exceptional education for our children? Will it advance our core visions as a district and will it be good for our community as a whole? I will also continue to lead in areas of budget finances to ensure that we can continue to offer all necessary educational services for our students while maintaining suggested surpluses and guarding against potential excessive spending or request for increased taxes. 

    1. You represent a specific part of the county…how will you balance the needs of your specific constituents with the needs of the overall school district? 

    I grew up in East Camden and went to Pine Tree Hill Elementary. I graduated from Camden High and then returned to Elgin after graduating from The Citadel. Eventually, my wife Regina and I built a home in Lugoff where we have been for 19 years. My wife taught elementary music at four different Kershaw County schools over a 17-year period and all 3 of my kids went to schools in Lugoff. My mother served as Clerk of Court for Kershaw County for more than 24 years. All of that is to state that I believe in Kershaw County and I believe that service must extend to all our schools and families. I also have an obligation to represent Lugoff to the best of my abilities. I believe that I can properly represent the specific needs of my community and still lead from a perspective of doing what is in the best interest of Kershaw County.

  • Candidates for School Board District 5

    Kesha Hayes

    1. What unique qualifications, education and work experience do you have that will most benefit the school district if you are elected/re-elected to the School Board?

    I am a life-long resident of Kershaw County with my only time away from the county being that period of time I was in college at Francis Marion University and Webster University.  I attended school here and graduated from Camden High School.  In addition, I am a mother of a 2020 graduate of Camden High School and have another child at Camden Elementary School.  So, when I talk about education in this community, it is from these experiences that I speak.  I have been involved in the school district either as a student or parent for nearly my entire life and have a genuine love and passion for the school district to do well.  If elected to the school board, the community will get a dedicated servant leader who will provide responsive governance by making sure that the best interest of the students, teachers, families, and community come first.  I am also a small business owner and will apply my business skills as a school trustee to make sure that every tax dollar is spent as wisely as possible.

    1. Because of Act 388, school district funding is dependent upon businesses for a portion of its income. If the district leadership suggested the need for a mileage increase, how would you balance the needs of the district with the current economic downturn and challenges for businesses?

    As I mentioned above, I am a small business owner and understand the challenges of having enough revenue to cover expenditures.  Act 388 puts a greater burden on small businesses whenever there is a mileage increase.  As a school board member, I would make certain that the school district really needs an increase in revenue by asking the hard questions.  It would be only after the school district has explored all avenues for generating more revenue that I would agree to ask Kershaw County Council for a mileage increase.  And even then, I would ask for a joint meeting with Kershaw County Council, share the evidence with them of our need, and work collaboratively to solve any funding issues.  I would make sure that the school district is transparent with all documentation showing the need for a mileage increase.

    1. What are the factors on which you will/do base your decisions as a school board member?

    I believe that the school district should have a strategic plan just like businesses have a business plan.  The plan should be developed with the help of members of the community, elected officials, government leaders, teachers, and students.  The details in this plan, along with hard data facts, should drive the decision making of the school board. 

    1. You represent a specific part of the county…how will you balance the needs of your specific constituents with the needs of the overall school district?

    I believe in representative democracy.  One of the reasons for having single member districts is to make sure that voices from all over the county are shared equally.  As a school board member, I would meet with members of my community and make sure that the important information that needs to be shared is presented.  Also, I would always remember that we are a united school district and work to serve the interest and desires of constituents inside and outside of my voting district.  We are only “whole” as a district when all of the parts join together and become one.

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    Dr. James Smith

    Dr. James Smith

    1. What unique qualifications, education and work experience do you have that will most benefit the school district if you are elected/re-elected to the School Board?

    First of all as a parent, I have always believed that a good education is the springboard to success for my children, grandchildren, and for every child.  This is my first qualification.  As a child who attended school in Kershaw County, I know what a difference it makes. I have been able to give back by teaching Pathways to Success to high school students in neighboring counties.  Secondly, my studies in sociology and psychology help me work together with others to bring about positive change and work together in a healthy way.  This has been evidenced, I believe, in my current work with the School Board.  Thirdly, my vocation and calling as a pastor keeps me focused on the needs of those who do not always have a voice that is heard.  Too often that is the children.  I believe that my work experience in the church, my service in the military, my work in community, all have prepared me to serve in such a way that the school district is prepared to meet the needs of students and their parents as well as teachers and staff.

    1. Because of Act 388, school district funding is dependent upon businesses for a portion of its income. If the district leadership suggested the need for a mileage increase, how would you balance the needs of the district with the current economic downturn and challenges for businesses?

    Over the past few years the school board has been very conscious of being fiscally responsible, therefore, we have not requested any millage increase.  If there was a request for millage increase, we would need to consider a couple of factors.  How urgent is the need?  Is this something that can wait a bit as the economy rebounds and businesses have an opportunity to regain some traction that has been lost during this pandemic?  If this is something that cannot wait, then there is the option to see if there are other areas from the district budget from which we can consider as well as explore opportunities of support from the State.  This board, I believe, has done a good job of looking ahead and planning for future needs anticipating that shortages may come.

    1. What are the factors on which you will/do base your decisions as a school board member?

    As a school board member I base my decisions on a several factors.  Current data.  What is needed?  If implemented, who will be affected and how?  If not implemented, what will the effect be?  What does the community say about it?  Do we have the necessary resources?  Finally, using a critical thinking process of weighing the pros and cons of the action (or non-action).  Realizing that I have only one vote, it is important to work towards building consensus within the board so that the best decision for the students, parents, teachers, staff, and the community can be made.

    1. You represent a specific part of the county…how will you balance the needs of your specific constituents with the needs of the overall school district?

    As a school board member, I represent a specific part of the county.  Since each board member comes with that same understanding, as a board we have to have clarity of purpose and goals that are essential to provide top quality education for all of the students in the district.  I believe that once that has been established, it becomes the lens through which we can view the work of the board.  That being said, there will be times that a specific part of the county has a need that is particular to them.  In those cases, I use the same factors I listed previously in my decision-making process.  Those are based upon need, affect if implemented, affect if not implemented, desire of the constituents and their reasoning, available resources, and weighing the pros and cons in a critical-thinking process.  Ultimately, it will take working together with the whole board to deliberate and come to a decision that will be best for the overall district.