Republican Showdown in District 97 Highlighted
Chamber of Commerce-Journal Scene forum featured five candidates in four races.
Republican voters got a second chance to see S.C. House District 97 Republican candidates debate the issues Tuesday.
The forum by Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce and Summerville Journal Scene was originally designed to include multiple race debates, but the only showdown of the night was for S.C. House District 97, featuring opponents Jordan Bryngelson and Ed Carter, both hoping to challenge Democratic incumbent Patsy Knight in the fall.
Many candidates dropped out at the last second for work obligations and other reasons, Tuesday's GOP debate continued with Sheriff L.C. Knight, County Council District 4 challenger John Hull and S.C. Senate District 38 challenger Sean Bennett facing no rivals. No candidates for County Council District 6 were present.
But the show went on, as moderator and Journal Scene publisher Ellen Priest posed questions to the candidates.
Bryngelson and Carter faced a series of questions, submitted by voters and selected by the debate sponsors. Watch the video to see how they answered how they would define "tax reform" and what they would restore to the S.C. budget.
Bryngelson and Carter began to show their differing views in the first GOP debate, sponsored by Patch and the Dorchester County Republican Party, in April. Tuesday's debate allowed the candidates to express their views on tax reform, restoring state budget cuts and job growth.
Both candidates touted their experience and smaller government. Bryngelson has worked within the Republican party, and Carter has worked within the Chamber of Commerce.
Bryngelson opened the debate with a focus on education.
"I will fight to have better quality education," Bryngelson said. "Education is a key component there (with jobs)"
Carter opened the debate encouraged by the crowd doing "their civic duty" and launched into talking about jobs.
"I'm all about economic development; I'm all about jobs," Carter said. "I'm all about bringing industry and manufacturing back into Dorchester County."
On school funding, Carter said the funding was "out of whack" and that he is a "great proponent" of school choice.
"We need to talk about the funding formula to ensure that all the different counties and different school districts are funded to the amount that they need to provide a quality education," Carter said.
Bryngelson said he and his opponent don't "differ very much" on education funding. He added that education also means jobs.
"Ultimately, if you have an educated workforce then you can really attract jobs," Bryngelson said.
The candidates both highlighted a burdensome tax system making it "prohibitive" to do business in the state.
"We've got to address the subject in real ways, not tax shifts, but tax cuts," Bryngelson said.
Carter focused on rebuilding the tax system.
"Not around the edges, not around the periphery ... but everything on the table and build a tax system that is fair and equitable to everybody," he said.
Priest then asked the candidates what, if anything, they would want to see restored to the slimmer S.C. budget that faced many cuts in the past few years.
"No. 1, we have to look at our prisons, jailers and law enforcement and restore those to a healthy level," Carter said, adding that government's role is to protect the people.
Bryngelson said he disagreed "fundamentally" with restoring the budget back to the times of prosperity and proposed sunset budgets — Carter disagreed.
Both candidates agreed the state should have no role in helping mortgagees in foreclosure or expanding evacuation routes to four lanes.