Conservative group hosts candidate forum

October 28 08:38 2016 Print This Article

The group West Ashley – James Island Conservatives hosted a candidate forum for Republican candidates running for state legislature and Charleston County Council at the West Ashley Andolini’s restaurant on 1940 Sam Rittenberg. The event was sponsored by by Paul Gangarosa’s business, Charleston Gun Teacher.

The candidates, who all seek to represent voters in West Ashley or James Island, had several common threads. They all oppose the referendum to increase Charleston County’s sales tax to 9.0%, that our elected officials need to work together at every level of government and that the completion of I-526 would relieve traffic congestion.

State Representative Peter McCoy is unopposed in House District 115, which includes James Island, Folly Beach, Kiawah and Seabrook. He cited his leadership role on the House Judiciary Committee and his commitment to our law enforcement community. His top priority is to network with other Representatives in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties to ensure that our region gets its share of state road funding.

Sandy Senn is running unopposed for Senate District 41 in Charleston and Dorchester counties, which includes most of West Ashley and James Island. She pledges to be a voice for first responders. She supports enrolling more high school juniors and seniors in certificate programs (CTE) at Trident Technical College so that they will graduate with the skills needed to get the jobs in manufacturing and technology that are coming to the lowcountry in large numbers. Senn wants to restructure the state road-funding formula based on usage rather than miles and notes that Charleston is one of nine “donor” counties which pay more in gas taxes than they receive in road funding.

Lin Bennett faces Democrat Bob Aubin in the open seat for House District 114, which includes West Ashley and Dorchester County. She wants to ensure that the state meets its obligation to the counties by complying with the Local Government Fund, which reimburses counties for state-mandated services. The counties have been short-changed in recent years. Like McCoy, Bennett wants to network with other legislators to get state funding for I-526, noting that the road is needed as a hurricane evacuation route for James Island and Johns Island.

Former St. Andrews Public Service District Commissioner Lee Edwards is trying unseat 5-term incumbent Leon Stavrinakis is House District 119, which includes precincts in West Ashley, James Island and Johns Island. He notes that plans to extend I-526 to Johns Island and James Island were on the drawing board when The Beetles were still on the Top 40 music charts and that local funding for the highway was called for in the 2004 sales tax increase referendum but not committed.  He says new leadership is needed to complete the project. Edwards proposes a ban on the relatives of legislators on states boards and commissions. His opponent’s brother Michael Stavrinakis currently serves on the MUSC board.

Brantley Moody is up against Democrat Ruth Jordan in the open seat for Charleston County Council District 7 in West Ashley. A Moody win would give Republicans a majority on County Council for the first time in 10 years. Moody thinks the planned Tax Incremental Finance District (TIF) extending from the Citadel Mall to the North Bridge will spur West Ashley revitalization efforts. He wants to work with the City of Charleston and the SCDOT to fix the “suicide merge” at Sam Rittenberg and Old Towne Road. He cites the collaboration between the County and the City in the Dupont/Wappoo area rezoning plan as an example of what can happen when government entities work together.

Carroll O’Neal faces 7-term democrat Robert Brown in House District 116, which extends from Johns Island along Highway 17 into Colleton County. He wants to see Bohicket Road, which accommodates 27,000 car trips per day, widened to four lanes. He wants a greater emphasis placed on maintaining existing state roads, many of which he describes as dangerous. O’Neal drew contrast between his strong support of gun rights and the right to life and his opponent’s voting record.

Election day is Tuesday, November 8. Early voting is underway at Seacoast Church on 2049 Sam Rittenberg up until Friday, November 4 from 8:30 am to 5:oo pm.