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Burke running for S.C. House District 80 seat

Posted: May 9, 2016 4:36 p.m.
Updated: May 10, 2016 1:00 a.m.

Brian Burke

Brian Burke is a new face on the campaign trail this election year. The 27-year-old, who lives in lower Richland County’s Mountainbrook subdivision, is trying to become the next representative for S.C. House District 80, which includes Elgin precincts numbers 1, 3, 4 and 5 and the Doby’s Mill precinct.

Originally from New Castle, Del., Burke joined the U.S. Air Force at the age of 19 and said he served “all over” as a U2 and F-16 mechanic. He said he was honorably discharged in June 2015, finished a bachelor’s degree in political science and is continue with paralegal studies through American Military University. Burke said he plans to transfer to the University of South Carolina in Fall 2015 to purse a masters in history or education.

“I started driving for Uber this week,” Burke said during an April 20 visit to the Chronicle-Independent. “It’s a good fit for going to school and campaigning door to door.”

Despite driving for Uber, Burke said he is somewhat anti-technology. While he does use email, owns a cellphone and maintains a campaign Facebook page, he is not interested in any other form of social media.

“It’s destroying the art of conversation,” Burke said.

He described himself as a strict interpreter of the U.S. Constitution, especially when it comes to Second Amendment rights.

“I don’t support and will never propose anything that will restrict citizens’ access to firearms,” Burke said, “but no one with a (poor) mental health record should have access to any kind of weapon, including knives.”

Burke said he is in favor of lower taxes, especially small businesses. He said this would allow business owners to pay their employees more, making them more likely to contribute to society and reduce the need to be on government assistance.

Burke said he supports both public and private education.

“If you can afford private school, good for you, but I every child should have access to quality education,” he said.

He also said he has a great respect for law enforcement and hopes to provide an atmosphere of trust and trust between officers and the public.

“I don’t have all the answers, but I know some stuff about different things and will work with people who do have the answers,” Burke said.

On healthcare, Burke said he has seen too many situations in his community where someone has been hurt and had to wait a long time before an ambulance comes to help them. He suggested a emergency health services facility be built between lower Richland County and Sumter where people can at least be stabilized and then sent to a larger facility.

Burke also expressed strong feelings about family and community.

“In my opinion, you can legislate, legislate, legislate, legislate until the cows come home, but nothing can heal the world like a mother and father can,” he said. “If every can feel loved by their parents and God, it would be a much calmer, better world.

“A lot of single parents live in poverty. I want to encourage motherhood and fatherhood.”

Finally, Burke touched on the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, regarding states rights. He said the state of South Carolina has a duty to review federal laws being enacted to make sure they are in accordance with South Carolina’s constitution.

“For example, with same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court doesn’t have legislative power, but only to interpret or express and opinion on existing law,” Burke said. “If the Constitution doesn’t state it, then the state has a responsibility to review it to make sure it’s not undermining state rights. We’re in trouble because we’re not following the Constitution’s precepts -- they should be studied in school.”

Burke said he sees himself as a young man running with new ideas. He said incumbent Rep. Jimmy Bales has held the seat for 17 years.

“I’m a new person with new ideas and a new approach,” Burke said.

He admits to not being as familiar with Kershaw County as he would like, but planned to travel the communities included in District 80.

Burke is unmarried, has no children and lives with his female Labrador/Shepherd/Huskie mix, Visenya.


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