House races off to start
Activists Linda Ketner and Clay Middleton have announced candidacies for U.S. Congress and State House seats, respectively.
Meanwhile, incumbent Bobby Harrell, speaker of the S.C. House, has filed for re-election and first-term S.C. Rep. Leon Stavrinakis has announced his re-election bid.
Ketner, whose candidacy for U.S. Rep. Henry Brown's 1st District seat had been expected, is running as a Democrat against the fourth-term Republican with a $1 million campaign fund who touts a record of constituent services.
She is a 57-year-old management consultant who formed South Carolina Citizens for Housing and is involved in a number of community organizations. The daughter of Food Lion co-founder Ralph Ketner, she is a longtime philanthropist in the Charleston community. She lives in Charleston.
"I really think we're at a fork in the road in South Carolina and in the nation," Ketner said. "We can take the same old path with the same old people, but it's just going to get us the same old results."
An example of the changes she'd like to introduce, she said, is to ensure third-grade students are proficient readers before they graduate to fourth grade, because at that point their education depends on their ability to read.
The 1st District includes Charleston, neighborhoods in the largely developed suburban area in Dorchester and Berkeley counties, and areas along U.S. 17 and S.C. 701 to the North Carolina border.
Middleton, 26, a Democrat, is running for the S.C. House District 111 seat now held by Floyd Breeland, a 16-year representative, who is retiring. Charleston City Councilman Wendell Gilliard also has said he will run for the seat.
Middleton is the Lowcountry coordinator for U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn and an S.C. Army National Guard captain. He lives in Charleston's Rosemont community and serves on the boards of a number of community improvement and housing organizations.
He is campaigning on improving technology education, making housing more affordable and creating jobs by bringing in programs that connect those goals.
"This is a diverse district, and it's not a good urban district," Middleton said. Bringing technology such as wireless Internet would have a huge impact. So would making "workforce" housing more affordable through better education and better paying jobs.
"If you're a teacher, a police officer, a fireman, in the military, a health care worker, you're the backbone of our economy. I think everyone who wants to own a house should be able to," he said. District 111 includes neighborhoods in Charleston, North Charleston and West Ashley roughly along the Ashley River.
Harrell, a Republican who lives in Charleston, is running to hold onto his District 114 seat.
He wants to continue work passing tax cuts, improving education and economic development, he said in a news release. District 114 is in Charleston and Dorchester counties roughly along Ashley River Road.
Stavrinakis, a Democrat who lives in Charleston, is running to hold onto his District 119 seat. He wants to keep taxes low, improve education, preserve quality of life and natural resources, and reform the "broken" political system in Columbia, he said in a news release. District 119 includes areas of Charleston, West Ashley, Johns Island, Kiawah and Seabrook.