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Column: The election

Posted: November 8, 2018 3:55 p.m.
Updated: November 9, 2018 1:00 a.m.

Election Day 2018 turned into one of the more interesting mid-term elections of recent memory.

Whether it will, ultimately, serve as a referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency is yet to be seen, in my opinion.

Yes, Democrats won back the U.S. House of Representatives, but Republicans not only retain control of the Senate, they also won a number of races across the country despite Democrats nipping at their heels.

Oddly enough, I’m more upset about the way some races turned out outside of South Carolina. For example, I’m not happy that Ron DeSantis -- even by a very, very tight margin -- might become Florida’s governor after running what I felt was a reprehensible campaign. I’m also not happy about Ted Cruz winning reelection in Texas, defeating Beto O’Rourke for Congress. Meanwhile, when I wrote this, it wasn’t 100 percent clear who will be Georgia’s governor, but I do not like the fact that it appears Brian Kemp may win despite his overseeing the election due to being Georgia’s current secretary of state. That’s just way too much conflict of interest for me.

Here at home, things turned out pretty much as expected. Now that the election’s over, I can give my opinion on the outcomes.

Before I do, though, note my choices -- I did not vote strictly Democrat. In fact, in my opinion, voting a straight ticket would have been disastrous.

Case in point: I’m very happy Lee Boan is going to be our new sheriff. I don’t place much stock in party politics when it comes to who runs our law enforcement agencies. I couldn’t care less that Boan is a Republican.

In fact, I don’t think politics should be part of law enforcement at all. The county should hire its sheriffs, not elect them. Boan’s current boss, Camden Police Chief Joe Floyd, is celebrating his 20th year with the city this year. Floyd’s maintained that position not because he’s politically popular, but because at least three city managers have found him to be an effective leader for the police department.

In Boan, voters have elected someone who is, in my opinion, the best person for the job. He’s a life-long county resident, has both extensive law enforcement (he started with the sheriff’s office years ago) and military experience. Boan will also be coming out of the Camden Police Department, one of the most transparent law enforcement agencies I’ve ever come across and I have every expectation he will carry that sense of openness to the sheriff’s office.

Meanwhile, I was also glad to see Laurie Funderburk reelected to the S.C. House of Representatives. She and State Sen. Vincent Sheheen -- both Democrats -- have done so much good for this county and are still young enough to keep going strong as long as voters want to keep reelecting them. Yes, I also believe there’s room for new blood. Considering I remember interviewing Funderburk for her first (and successful) campaign when she was 28 years old, though, I think the two of them have enough “young blood” to spare for a while.

I am disappointed, but unfortunately not surprised, John Meadors lost his petition bid for 5th Circuit Solicitor. He won Kershaw County by a pretty fair margin. I think that was, in part, due to a successful series of social media posts reminding folks not to simply vote a straight Democratic ticket. While Meadors is a Democrat, he missed registering for the party’s primary and had to go forward as a petitioner.

I don’t think voters down in Richland County got the “don’t vote straight ticket” message. They voted overwhelmingly for Byron Gipson to be the next solicitor.

To be blunt, I’m a little worried about that. Gipson is a defense and personal injury attorney. To my knowledge, he has never prosecuted a single case. While both he and Meadors talked about compassion for those they would have to prosecute, Meadors is the only one of the two who’s had to prosecute cases and decide when to be tough and when to give someone a second chance.

I look forward to seeing how Gipson does, and I will say this: I sincerely hope he will lead the solicitor’s office in a far better manner than it was under Dan Johnson.

Moving back up to state-level politics, I was a little surprised voters rejected the idea of having the state superintendent of education be appointed by the governor. Like sheriffs, I don’t think politics should enter into the decision of who should lead a state education department. It turns something that incredibly important into a political popularity contest. After all, it’s not like any of us voted for Betsy DeVos up in Washington.

The best about Tuesday’s election was the fantastic turnout! The more people who vote, the better off our Democracy becomes.

Congratulations, everyone, on making your votes count.

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