Democratic Lt. Gov. hopeful Bakari Sellers dropped by North Charleston Thursday to outline his vision for the state's senior citizens - a rapidly growing part of the state's population.
Sellers, currently a House member from Bamburg, faces Republican and former S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster on Nov. 4.
Whoever wins also will head up the state's Office on Aging.
Sellers has been on a statewide tour to tout his plan that includes greater tax breaks, an enhanced transportation initiative and better care for seniors.
He spoke to about 20 residents and staff members at the Agape Senior North Charleston Assisted Living Center and found some concerns.
One resident, Remona Anders, 76, told him, "We're worried very shortly the management here is going to come and tell us we have to raise your rates."
Sellers responded, "That is our fault. For the past year, we have not properly funded places like this."
Sellers, 29, also talked about his upbringing in rural Bamberg.
Scott Middleton, CEO of Agape, is backing Sellers, who has been touring some of Agape's 13 facilities across South Carolina. He said the state's refusal to expand Medicaid -a position backed by top Republican leaders, including Gov. Nikki Haley - could cost the state several thousand healthcare jobs and make it harder for Agape's residents to find doctors.
McMaster unveiled his plan for seniors early last month, just before his June GOP primary.
The plan, which calls for some of the same things as Sellers' plan, includes: new efforts to stop abuse of seniors and vulnerable adults; promoting volunteerism and physical fitness; giving larger tax breaks to elderly residents; increasing the effectiveness of the state's senior centers; and helping residents plan financially for retirement.
South Carolina currently has no statewide elected officials who are Democrats, and Sellers said of his campaign: "This is definitely a David versus Goliath race. ... (but) there is nobody who is going to outwork me."
Sellers was less inclined to contrast the partisan or racial differences in the lieutenant governor's race but did allude to his being less than half as old as McMaster, 67.
"My race is a clear contrast," he said. "It's about whether or not you want to vote for a candidate of yesterday or a candidate who represents the future. It's not about what South Carolina was or about what South Carolina is. It's about what South Carolina can be."
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.
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