SUMMERVILLE--The suburban S.C. House District 98 seat presided over by Annette Young for two decades is up for grabs. Both parties have contested races between candidates who have sharp differences with each other.
Two Democrats are wrestling for a nomination in the Republican-dominated Oakbrook-area district where the party sometimes didn't field a candidate against Young, who said in March she would step down. In the Republican primary are two candidates who sit almost side-by-side on Dorchester County Council but don't see eye to eye.
Republican Larry Hargett is campaigning on "restoring representation," saying elected officials owe allegiance to constituents and not special interest groups. He's also in favor of controlled growth.
"I'm more of a smart growth planner. I think we ought to have limited growth with smart planning. We learned back in 2005, 2006 and 2007 that too much growth is not a good thing, especially on schools and infrastructure. My opponent is for more open growth," said Hargett, a county councilman.
He chided Chris Murphy, his Republican opponent, as claiming to be fiscally conservative but voting for fee increases as a County Council member.
Murphy is campaigning on jobs, improving roads and schools, and public safety.
"When I tell you I'm going to do something, I do it," Murphy said. "I vote my convictions. I don't waffle and flip-flop on issues to suit my personal agenda. I am more fiscally conservative than my opponent, who has advocated repealing the property tax reform act that was the largest tax decrease in state history."
Murphy said council voting records "will show you who is the more fiscally conservative candidate."
Christine Jackson is campaigning for the Democratic nomination on a platform of supporting local businesses, disallowing state incentives for large corporations, smart growth, budget reform and fixing a "communications gap" between the Statehouse and the people. A policy analyst, she is a relative newcomer to politics. She said the other candidates put party before people.
"I'm more an average person, a working mother. I'm not using this election as a stepping stone to further a political career. I feel I'm more in tune with what the average person in this district is concerned about," she said. "The other candidates will tell you they're against politics as usual, but all I've seen is politics as usual."
Her opponent, county Democratic Party Chairman Steve Yeomans, is campaigning on jobs, improving "the root of our problems" in education failures and fiscal responsibility. He also said he wants to improve communication between the district representative and constituents. The home builder emphasized that he is a conservative Democrat.
"We need to focus our attention on where most of the jobs are and most of the economy is, and that's small business in South Carolina. Government can't create jobs," he said. "What government can do is create the atmosphere for small business to expand."
The party primaries are June 8. The winners will face off Nov. 2 in the general election.