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Letters to the Editor: Remembering Ambassador Marion Smoak

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Marion Smoak

Photo from November of 1984 of Marion H. Smoak. File/Staff

The Nov. 5 Post and Courier article, “How SC changed from blue state to red,” was about the handful of Republicans who seeded the movement. Also consider and remember Ambassador Marion Smoak.

Joe, as he was known to his friends and that was just about everyone, was an Aiken native, Citadel graduate, regimental commander of the Class of 1938 and a graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law.

As a member of “the greatest generation,” he served his country as a paratrooper in the Army in WWII and as a law professor to cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

He returned to Aiken and became one of the first Republicans elected to the state Senate since Reconstruction.

In 1970, he was appointed assistant chief of protocol for the State Department in Washington, D.C., and went on to become chief of protocol with the confirmed title of ambassador, working with President Richard Nixon.

Although he returned to his law practice, he told me stories of continued work with presidents on both sides of the aisle.

My memory is of a kind man with a warm smile who took time to ask about me.

I believe he must have done much for South Carolina and the Republican Party through his service, his work and his kindness, whether he was in South Carolina, D.C. or on Air Force One.

The ambassador passed away in May, two months shy of his 104th birthday.

Joe was a South Carolinian, a Republican and always a gentleman.


Menotti Street


Change in sheriff

We all know elections can bring significant change.

As a researcher on many issues for Charleston County, I am acutely aware of the change in the sheriff’s office. Sheriffs have been under public scrutiny all over South Carolina.

In 1990, Charleston voters decided to abolish the county police force and give those duties to the Charleston County sheriff.

An analysis that I conducted for The Post and Courier advised that “Voters should carefully consider if they want their chief criminal law enforcement officer to be politically elected. ... Under such a process, the possibility for some future sheriff to use the police force to further (his/her) political ends does exist.”

My 1990 report concluded that Charleston County was fortunate to have a sheriff with the qualifications of the current office holder (Al Cannon).

In 2019, I was chairwoman of a special committee appointed by Charleston County Council to examine its emergency services.

During that process, I was struck by the respect and praise we heard, unbidden, for Sheriff Cannon for all he had done to help police agencies and others work together, to improve the emergency communication system, and to always be ready to provide assistance.

I do not know Sheriff-elect Kristin Graziano, but I wish her all the best.

I do know that the current agency is internationally accredited and that should be a firm base on which to start her tenure.


Clearview Drive


More than party

South Carolina has been called a part of the “Solid South.” That is, we are supposed to be solidly Republican.

I would like to point out that South Carolina was solid blue during segregation. It turned red upon integration.

We are not solid anything. We are individuals. Forty-seven percent lean Republican, 37% lean Democratic.

We are white, black, Asian, Latino, mixed race and many others.

We are of many religions: at least 40 different Christian denominations, at least three major branches of Judaism, numbers of different Muslim sects, Buddhists, Wiccan, agnostic, atheists and many others.

We have two U.S. senators and seven representatives. These are not enough to truly represent our state.

Therefore, do not call us “Solid Republican.” That is an insult to us.

Let all of our voices be heard.


Fenwick Hall Allee

Johns Island

Promote Staley

Except for the women’s basketball program, the performance of many sports teams at the University of South Carolina has been mediocre at best.

I suggest the school think outside the box and make changes at the top of the athletic administration.

One candidate to consider is Dawn Staley, the women’s basketball coach.

Winners know how to pick winners.


Bull Street


Bipartisan leader

As someone who voted Republican in every S.C. 1st Congressional District race from Tommy Hartnett to Mark Sanford, I am thrilled that I took a chance on Joe Cunningham.

Rep. Cunningham kept his word to the Lowcountry to work in a bipartisan way to represent us.

When Cunningham was named one of the most bipartisan members of Congress and awarded the Jefferson Award for his bipartisan leadership from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, I knew he deserved another vote from me.

I am so grateful for his service to the Lowcountry. Cunningham exemplified what public service is supposed to be about. It’s not about amassing wealth and influence, but about serving constituents.

Thank you, Congressman Joe Cunningham. You restored my faith in elected leaders.


Fort Johnson Road


Don’t exclude votes

I recently heard U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham say on Fox News that unless “we change the election system, we will never have another Republican president.”

I’m stunned.

First, that ignores the fact that the current Republican president won in 2016 with 3 million fewer votes that his opponent.

Second, he seems to be saying that if the voting majority in this country votes Democratic, what should be changed is either the way the electorate is qualified or the entire concept of majority rule, which is the basis of our government.

Maybe the Republican party could spend a bit more time on finding out how to connect with a larger portion of the American people rather than looking for ways to exclude their votes.


Chapel Street


Voter interference

The American electorate has come to realize that we can do more to interfere in our own elections than China and Russia may be able to do.


Oatly Circle


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