Running to represent S.C. House District 97, Ed Carter sat down with Patch and concerned voters Thursday at Coastal Coffee Roasters for the last installment of Patch's Coffee with the Candidate series before the Nov. 6 election.
A Republican, Carter is challenging incumbent Democrat Rep. Patsy Knight, who declined to participate in the candidate series.
Carter participated in this series prior to the June GOP primary. Click here to read the Q&A from that event.
Here is the recap of Thursday's conversation with Carter:
Q: Before the primary, you had told us you would have a different strategy from the GOP primary to the General Election, where you now face a Democratic opponent. Will you tell us your strategy?
In the general, you assume the "R" is going to vote for you and you don't waste your time with the "D"s. We're looking for those independents. There are about 3,000 independents in my district, and we knocked on their doors and phone banked them. We did live calls, not robo-calling. I've got about 30-40 volunteers. We've also done mail outs. I've run a very positive campaign, just like I did in the primary.
Q: A question on the ballot to S.C. voters this election cycle is whether or not they want the Lieutenant Governor and the Governor on the same ticket. What is your view?
I voted yes to it. It makes very good sense. The two should be like-minded. If something happens to the governor, I want them on the same page.
Q: The school bond referendum here has become a contentious issue. One of the reasons the referendum is being put to the voters is because the district is out of funding options. With impact fees tied up in litigation, would you do anything to free up that money to help fund school buildings?
First off, there's not much tied up in there. Impact fees don't work. Everyone thinks it's the panacea to all our problems — it's not. So how do we fix our roads? I think the Dorchester County one-cent sales tax referendum was the way to sell it to the voters. They identified every single road. I don't think people like voting for blank checks — I know I don't. They should make it law by putting it on the referendum. Dorchester County School District 4 is really in District 97. There is some precincts in Dorchester Two, but I'll let those voters answer that question on whether or not to support it.
Q: What are your top three priorities?
No. 1, and this is a big issue, is jobs available in the local area. People commute an hour plus. A lot of big companies are finding out their better off with American workers. If we could land a huge plant like Caterpillar, it would change the face of Dorchester County over night. To do that, we have to look at our taxes. We have the highest manufacturing tax in the nation. This is why our state does those huge incentive packages — it's because of our doggone tax structure. I'm of the opinion that we just trash the current system. Anything is better than what we've got right now. No. 2, as a freshman, there's not a whole much you can do but learn and build relationships and build consensus so you can act as a unified delegation to get something done in Dorchester County. No. 3, well, there's a lot of issues and they're not in any particular order. All the rest will fall out from the first two.
Q: You mentioned starting anew with the tax system. The current Speaker of the House has defended slow changes to the tax system and said an abrupt change would only be halted by lobbyists. Should it be little by little or all at once?
I would like to look at it in total — put it all on the table. That doesn't mean it will end up getting passed. But the idea will be that everybody needs to pay some and have some skin in the game. I would look at the FairTax. I want our taxes such so that we compete with our surrounding states.
Q: Should South Carolina restructure it's state government?
We're the last state in the union that elects the adjunct general. That should be part of the governor's staff. You elect the governor to be the chief elected officer. The governor then needs those tools. He or she needs to able to do things like deploy those troops.
Q: You mention delegation unity earlier. Sen. Mike Rose in Dorchester County has argued that unity among our delegation could be a bad thing, what are your thoughts?
Unity in the legislative delegation will allow us to move forward for Dorchester County. Disunity means we get nowhere. We will work together for Dorchester County.
Q: How will you bring economic development to Dorchester County?
You need to get permitting done for sites like Winding Woods. When CEOs come looking, if you don't have a shovel-ready site, they will pass you by. The SCANA Canadys plant will take 7 years just for the permitting process. That needs to be accelerated. You need to change the regulatory requirements. You do deadlines. Give agencies a deadline. If it doesn't come out in six months, it is approved by default.
Q: You were caught up in the ballot lawsuit brought by the Dorchester County Democratic Party, which claimed you did not file in accordance with state law. The judge found there was not sufficient evidence and dismissed the case against you and other GOP candidates. . Can you tell us more about that?
They sued us saying we didn't file properly and it was nonsense. They had no evidence and no witnesses. It was a fishing expedition and there are consequences to that. It cost me $15,000 out of pocket and I would like that money back. It will take probably two years before this is all settled, though. But this next session, the General Assembly has to get the election law fixed (that caused the ballot debacle across the state). When people vote at the ballot box, it shouldn't be determined in the court of law. It was embarrassing for our state. You just need to get rid of the old, conflicting election law.
Like Patch's Coffee with the Candidates? How about coffee with the editor? Summerville Patch Editor Lindsay Street will begin having "office hours" at Coastal Coffee Roasters weekly. Hours are 1-3 p.m. Tuesdays. Office hours begin Nov. 13.