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Primary, school board elections are June 12

Posted: May 24, 2018 4:12 p.m.
Updated: May 25, 2018 1:00 a.m.
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Kershaw County voters will have a number of decisions to make with primary elections and a regular election for the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees coming up on June 12.

Voters who choose to cast ballots in the Republican Party primary will decide on a number of candidates at the local level, with contests for seats on Kershaw County Council, Kershaw County Sheriff and Kershaw County Auditor.

In County Council District 6, incumbent Tom Gardner will face challenger Jim Steele. Steele, a retired defense contractor, says he is a conservative Republican interested only in working to ensure county government operates as efficiently, transparently and unobtrusively as possible. Major issues and concerns for him include fiscal responsibility, responsiveness to public concerns and transparency.

Gardner, who has served on council since 2010, says he wants to see through to the finish a number of projects and initiatives with which he has been involved while on council. Economic development and responsible growth in the county are two important issues to him, he said.

Incumbent Julian Burns faces challenger Rodrick H. “Roddy” Blackwell in the race for Kershaw County Council Chairman.

Burns points to a number of goals accomplished during his first term, including the creation and adoption of VisionKershaw 2030, a long-term plan for the growth and quality of life of Kershaw County as well as strides made in economic development. Jobs and economic development remain Burns’ top priority, and he notes that $250 million in new investments and more than 600 new jobs have been created in Kershaw County during his first term as chairman.

Blackwell, who is manager of the Bank of America’s Camden branch, said he will work hard to bring change to Kershaw County; he says he decided to run because he has seen too many changes and decisions occur with which he disagrees. He says county council needs to find ways to cut spending and revisit policies that are harming and hampering local businesses.

Four candidates are vying for County Council District 5: Janice Caldwell, Jimmy “Jimbo” Crissman, David Snodgrass and Brant Tomlinson.

Caldwell, a business owner and fiscal conservative, says she is concerned with the challenges small business owners face. She states she does not intend to raise taxes, but, rather find more efficient ways to spend available funds. She also states revitalization, especially in the areas of east Camden, the airport and Exit 101 on I-20, is important to the vitality of the county and its ability to attract new business and industry.

Crissman, who owns Camden Gold and Silver, says he is and has always been concerned about excessive taxation, and has pledged to never vote to raise taxes but instead will work to cut government spending. He said he also will work to reduce burdensome regulations on small businesses as well as work to protect property rights and constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of citizens.

Snodgrass, who is minister of Camden First Church of the Nazarene and serves as president of Christian Community Ministries and the Kershaw County Ministerial Association, says key issues for him include economic development, healthy communities, government transparency and fiscal responsibility. He said he believes government is responsible to its citizens, not political parties or special interest groups.

Tomlinson, who works with the Mullikin Law Firm in Camden, says he is committed to working together for meaningful progress for the community. It is not enough to identify faults and challenges; council and the community must work together for strong, meaningful solutions.

County Council District 5 incumbent Dennis Arledge announced earlier this year he would not run for re-election to council, instead opting to run for county auditor. Arledge faces Beverly Ray-Dowey in that race. Arledge, who owns and operates an insurance brokerage in Kershaw County, says he believes the auditor position is a good fit for his background, experience and temperament. Not only has he spent a career -- both in the private and public -- working with the public and delivering good service, but his business background and experience holds many similarities with the functions of the auditor’s office, including organization and management, troubleshooting and problem solving, and the ability to work with people from all backgrounds in a professional but friendly manner. He has also said that, if elected, he will do everything he can to make a smooth transition, including job shadowing with the current auditor, until he takes office.

Ray-Dowey, who is running for public office for the first time in this race, has an extensive background in education, both in teaching and administration; she has also owned and operated several private businesses. Her goal, Ray-Dowey said, is to serve others with integrity and in a competent manner; to offer a tireless and transparent work ethic and a customer service second to none; to promote fiscal responsibility and accuracy in accounting to reduce waste of taxpayers’ dollars; and continue the quest to make Kershaw County government equitable, more efficient and essential for growth and development.

Four Republicans are running for Kershaw County Sheriff: Lee Boan, Donald Branham, Jack Rushing and Eric Tisdale.

Boan, who is currently captain of operations and assistant police chief for the Camden Police Department, has nearly 25 years in law enforcement in a variety of roles, including with the CPD, Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office and SLED. He also has more than 20 years in the military, including two combat tours, and is currently a major in the S.C. Army National Guard. He also holds a Masters in Public Administration and Master of Science in Criminal Justice and is a graduate of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations National Academy.

Branham, who retired from the S.C. Highway Patrol after 25 years of service, says community oriented policing is at the heart of his plan and if elected sheriff, he will concentrate on a number of areas, including advocating for school resource officers, training with all fire and emergency services agencies, working to have KCSO gain accreditation, and implementing a strategic plan to increase deputy presence in all areas of the county.

Rushing, who currently serves as chief deputy of the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office, has some 20 years experience in law enforcement, including four years with the S.C. House of Representatives Sergeant at Arms office and some 17 years with SLED. He joined KCSO in 2016 as captain of operations before becoming chief deputy earlier this year.

Tisdale, who is currently an investigator with the S.C. 5th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, has some 25 years in law enforcement, having served with the Kingstree Police Department, KCSO and CPD. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the FBI Command College.

Voters who choose to vote in the Democratic primary will not vote for local offices in the primary, However, they will vote for candidates in state elections, including the Governor’s race, and U.S. House of Representatives District 5 race, which includes Camden native Steve Lough.

Elections for the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees are non-partisan. Four districts are on the ballot, however, only one is contested; District 2 will see Stephen L. Wilson mount a challenge against incumbent Mark Surry. District 4, held by Shirley Halley, District 6, held by Kim Horton DuRant, and District 8, held by Don Copley, are all uncontested.
For more information on the upcoming elections, voting eligibility requirements, candidates and other important information go to www.scvotes.org.

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