This week the Rotary Club of Historic Charleston hosted a Candidate’s Forum. Sandy Senn, SC Senator representing District 41, and her opponent Sam Skardon spoke about the challenges that need to be addressed for the district and our region and took several questions submitted by our members.
In his opening statement, Sam recalled how the first time he visited our club, Darren Goss with the Coastal Community Foundation spoke. Mr. Goss presented an economic “heat map” that showed that people born into extreme poverty in SC were less likely to climb to higher income levels than anywhere in the country. One of the main causes of this is a failed public education system. Sam attended Charleston County schools and has seen firsthand the issues and challenges in our local district and statewide.
Sandy is completing her first term and joined via Zoom because she needed to be present for an upcoming vote at the Statehouse. Her focus in that term has been flooding and infrastructure. She chairs the Countywide Intergovernmental Flooding Task Force which brings together all government entities to address problems throughout whole neighborhoods, even where they may cross jurisdictions. This has been very successful in addressing issues in the District. Sandy also ran in 2016 on her support of the completion of I-526 which she helped push it through. She is a proponent of Career and Technology Education (CTE) for students who choose to learn skills and trades while completing their high school education. In her legal practice she is an advocate for first responders and continues to be one. Sandy is also a strong proponent of conservation and protecting our environment.
Questions were posed to the candidates on closing the wage gap for women, expanded voting by mail and absentee voting, ensuring Charleston County receives equitable treatment in Covid response funding, investing in education, and other issues facing South Carolina.
There was also a “lightning round” of yes or no questions. Both said they would support completing I-526. The second round of questions brought up the topic of Medicaid Expansion in SC, which Sam supports. Sandy stated that she is in favor of emergency measures to help those who are unemployed or underemployed during the pandemic. She is also in favor of adjusting the thresholds of eligibility to help those workers who are in the $20,000 to $22,000 range who are not currently eligible. But she does not support full expansion of Medicaid. Sandy was asked about rapid testing for Covid 19 which she supports. Sam was asked about his position on offshore drilling and said he is totally opposed, and he is proud of his endorsement from Representative Joe Cunningham who led the fight against offshore drilling.
In her closing statement, Sandy stated that although she supports term limits, she feels she still has work that she can accomplish in the next four years. She said when she came into office, she considered herself a conservative, but in the Statehouse, she is a moderate. She strives to remain conservative on fiscal issues and try and keep from going down the social issues “rabbit holes” where debates tend to go in Columbia. Sam brought up that 46 years ago a politician came before this club to ask for support, Joseph P. Riley. His vision for Charleston was amazing and he was a force for change and progress in our community. Sam wants to share a vision for progress for South Carolina and bring a unique progressive voice to the Statehouse.