Tuesday, August 12, 2014
A senatorial debate held August 7, in Georgetown drew a substantial crowd. The Citizens for Progress, a group that is headquartered in Georgetown, hosted the debate at Bethel AME Church in order for citizens to hear each candidate’s platform and vision before they head to the polls September 2, for the SC Senate District 32 special election.
Three of the four candidates running for Senate seat included House of Representative (District 103) Carl Anderson, House of Representative Ronnie Sabb (District 101), and Lake City attorney Cezar McKnight. The fourth candidate, Kingstree attorney Sam Floyd, had a previous engagement and in July sent his regrets to the group via email.
The debate was laid out in a question/answer forum. Questions were prepared by the Citizens for Progress, which included citizen input, and presented by a panel of news reporters and editors. Each candidate had two minutes per question. Among his visions as senator, Sabb will continue economic development, tweaking the formula that funds education, and work towards consistent standards. “What’s key, as we look at it from the state perspective, is that there are standards in place where by all our children are measured. One of the things we cannot allow, I think, is to have disparities in the criteria what qualifies for a diploma?”
Anderson agreed saying he will continue to fight for teachers, better schools, and technology. McKnight said he would also change the way education is funded and fight for broadband access to the Internet. “I believe that our public schools are going to be the salvation of our communities because they are going to give us our future leaders,” said McKnight. “They have to improve because once they improve employers look to our communities for a viable place for their businesses and those are the things we need to focus on.” The three candidates also support school choice.
As for jobs, Anderson used his two minutes to talk about $5 million to expand the port of Georgetown, which could possibly create spin-off jobs in the five counties within the district.
McKnight said he would work with economic development boards to recruit jobs, focus on improving education and dredging the port of Georgetown as well. McKnight stated that there is currently a proposal for $32 million in federal dollars to dredge the port. Anderson refuted McKnight’s claim saying there is $12 million in federal dollars, $5 million from Georgetown County, as well as funding from the business community. “If there was $32 million in the federal budget we wouldn’t need to raise but $1 million to dredge the port of Georgetown,” said Anderson.
Anderson was reminded that there was not enough time allotted for rebuttal. However, McKnight would counter saying the $32 million was earmarked for the port and passed by the House but he wasn’t certain if the legislation made it to the Senate.
President Obama signed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act in June. Its passage will allow funding for 34 water infrastructure projects across the country. During his two minutes, Sabb focused on such things as good hospitals as well as technical schools, which play a key role in job creation, pointing to Williamsburg Technical College that will soon be a job ready school once an addition is completed.
Overall, improving education is the foundation of job creation was a focal point for the three candidates. Sabb, Anderson, McKnight and Floyd are holding rallies throughout August. For information regarding the candidate and schedule of meetings, please visit their respective Facebook page.