It’s pitiful that only about 10 percent of state legislative races — 18 seats out of 170 in the House and Senate — are truly competitive. Lack of competition in November’s general election, thanks mostly to incumbent protection afforded by gerrymandering, leads to perennial complaints about the General Assembly — that it’s too male, too white and too Republican.
Fortunately, the Lowcountry is trending more purple than red or blue, which means there are several competitive legislative elections this year. We asked all area candidates representing part of Charleston County to fill out an eight-question survey, the answers to which are posted online at CharlestonCityPaper.com. If they completed it, we considered their qualifications and now offer these endorsements. We believe these candidates best reflect Lowcountry values:
Democratic newcomer Emily Cegledy (Senate 34, northern Charleston County) is a nurse and self-described soccer mom who will challenge the health insurance industry. We like her energy and need her voice to inject reality in debates too long ignored in Columbia.
Longtime Republican Sen. Larry Grooms (Senate 37, Charleston, Berkeley counties) is the only Lowcountry legislator on the Senate Finance Committee. For a region that recently had top leaders in the governor’s office, Senate and House, we now need as much help as we can get. Grooms also will continue to fight the ill-conceived proposal to sell Santee Cooper.
Democratic candidate Sam Skardon (Senate 41, West Ashley, James Island) is the right person to lead this increasingly progressive area. His focus on people over institutions and the civil rights lessons he learned from mentor John Lewis will pump new energy into the state Senate.
Democratic attorney Richard Hricik (Senate 43, East Cooper to Seabrook Island) values hard work, better schools and clean energy. We believe he’ll focus efforts on real issues that make a difference in people’s lives instead of social issues that distract.
Four incumbents — Democrats J.A. Moore, Wendell Gilliard and Krystle Matthews along with Republican William Cogswell — should return to Columbia to continue their hard work. Moore (House 15, North Charleston) and Gilliard (House 111, West Ashley) fight for progressive causes and educate colleagues on their importance. Matthews (House 117, North Charleston), an engineering planner at Boeing, will continue to be an effective voice on affordable housing and women’s health issues. The moderate business leadership offered by Cogswell (House 110, Charleston) will serve the Lowcountry well in its fight to get better infrastructure. A just-elected Democratic incumbent, Spencer Wetmore (House 115, James Island) is so new that she still needs a chance to use her local government experience in Columbia.
We also encourage you to vote for these newcomers: Jen Gibson (House 99, Daniel Island-Mount Pleasant), whose passion is education; Deon Tedder (House 109, North Charleston), a lawyer who will push criminal justice reform; Daniel Brownstein (House 112, East Cooper), who will fight for better schools and environmental protection; and Ed Sutton (House 114, West Ashley), whose energetic campaign outreach highlights a true commitment to servant leadership.