Senate District 41 foes express differences in debate
They’ve clashed in news articles, TV ads and through their supporters, but Senate District 41 hopefuls Democrat Paul Tinkler and Republican Paul Thurmond actually squared off face-to-face Monday night.
And the hour-long debate, sponsored by the Charles Towne District Task Force, highlighted several differences between the two:
On completing I-526: Thurmond said he favors its completion, which is now before Charleston County Council, and is concerned about the “special interests” trying to block it. Tinkler said it’s a divisive issue that has split the district’s voters — and he supports setting it either via County Council vote or a community referendum. Thurmond criticized Tinkler for not taking a stand pro or con.
On unions: Thurmond called unions “horrible for business” and vowed to discourage them, if elected. Tinkler said he opposed the National Labor Relations Board’s recent lawsuit against Boeing but said workers have the right to form a union, and if they’re inclined, “they should be allowed to do that without interference from any state politician.”
On school vouchers: Thurmond said he supports increasing school choice, including vouchers for families sending their children to private school. Tinkler said he is concerned vouchers would siphon state money away from public education, “and that is one thing I will never do.” Thurmond said he did not favor decreasing funding to public schools.
On taxes: Tinkler called for repealing Act 388, a six-year-old law that swapped property taxes for sales taxes to support public school districts. He said the move undermined a stable funding source for schools. Thurmond said such a move would double homeowners’ property tax bills, and he called for reducing the tax burden on small business owners and individuals.
On ethics reform: Both said they supported ethics reform, and Thurmond praised Haley’s moves toward that end. However, Tinkler framed it as one of the race’s most important issues and hit Thurmond for profiting by $100,000 by lobbying his former county Council colleagues to speed through a park land sale. Tinkler said he was running to restore trust in state government and said ethics reform could improve the state’s jobs picture.
On the Savannah River dredging: Even though they’re both Republicans, Thurmond had stronger words against Gov. Nikki Haley’s handling of that environmental permit, calling her decision “shortsighted.” Tinkler said all public officials, from the governor on down, should support South Carolina’s ports.
On renourishing Wild Dunes: While on County Council, Thurmond voted for $900,000 in accommodations taxes to build back the beach at the Isle of Palms’ northern end, and he described it Monday as a good investment because the resort produces about $500,000 a year in those taxes. Tinkler said, “I don’t believe that the public has any business spending money to renourish a beach at a private resort.”