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Stephen Smoak

Kersahaw County Council Dist. 5

Posted: October 22, 2010 1:46 p.m.
Updated: October 25, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Area of county in which you reside:

I am a resident of Camden.

Family:

Wife Crystal; Children Liza (age 6), Sarah Anne (age 4), and Roger (age 6 months)

Hobbies:

Spending time with family, tennis, golf, activities on Lake Wateree

Education:

Camden High School (1992)

Furman University (B.S. 1996)

University of South Carolina School of Law (J.D. 2000)

Employment:

Attorney/Partner at Savage, Royall & Sheheen, LLP

Why are you running for office?

I am offering myself as a candidate for county council because I truly care about this community in which I have lived my entire life.  As a young person who works in the county every day and supports a young family, I have a genuine vested concern for its future.

We cannot stand still in these difficult times.  The county must develop our infrastructure so that we will be poised for economic development as the economy improves.  I have consistently supported these efforts and will continue to do so.  The completion of commercial sewer in East Camden is a testament to my persistent work for economic growth.

More than anything else right now, we need to restore a sense of professionalism to county government.  I understand that elected officials serve the citizens and that the citizens expect and deserve to have elected officials who behave with honor and integrity.

I provide fair and honest leadership by recognizing that no single individual has all of the answers.  We must continue to work together with municipal and state officials along with non-profit entities such as the local chamber of commerce, to offer common-sense solutions to the difficult issues.

What current issues do you think require more attention by elected officials?

We must continue to focus on economic development.  It is intrinsically connected to all other local issues.  New business results in more jobs for our citizens, and it alleviates the tax burden on individuals and existing businesses.  County Council must work at fostering a cooperative environment which is attractive to business and industry.  

Without question, recreation needs more attention in Kershaw County. Our county is decades behind neighboring counties in our recreation facilities.  Kershaw County is losing countless tourism dollars because our travel ball teams must play all of their tournaments in other counties who have far superior facilities.  We must find a way to do something about recreation here in Kershaw County and utilize it as a tool for economic development.

What is your opinion of taxes such as the city of Camden’s hospitality tax and Kershaw County’s proposed capital projects tax?

An additional tax should always be a last resort.  There is a significant distinction between Camden’s hospitality tax and the county’s capital projects proposal.  With the capital projects tax, the voters will decide the issue and, before casting their vote, have the opportunity to see specifically how their tax dollars will be spent if the measure is approved.  If the voters decide that they do not like the proposed projects or that the timing is poor, the tax will not be enacted.

What do you see as the county’s role in education funding?

The county has oversight authority for the school district’s operating millage.  The state passed a law in 1971 that gives Kershaw County Council this specific responsibility.  I believe there was a purpose behind this provision when it was enacted that is still applicable today- it provides a second layer of scrutiny for the public’s tax dollars spent on education.

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