MONCKS CORNER--The three candidates for Berkeley County supervisor are each Hanahan residents and Republicans who know each other well. Two of them are longtime friends.
But they are anything but a matched set -- the incumbent, a mayor and a congressman. They are in a pitched battle for the seat while three incumbent council members also are fighting to hold their seats.
It all will be decided in primary voting June 8.
Their takes on how to manage the sprawling county of more than 170,000 people have similarities and sharp differences.
Hanahan Mayor Minnie Blackwell stresses service.
"Berkeley County needs a leader who will work and serve the people and not themselves," she said. "One who will listen and be accessible 24/7 to the needs of the people of the county. A leader who is not afraid to challenge the bureaucracy and one who will make sure there is transparency in our government."
Managing the county in the economic downturn means focusing on its communities, such as sitting down with the mayors of each town and asking what the community needs, she said. "You need to be responsible. You need to be efficient, and you'd better have some creativity in these hard times, even getting out from behind the supervisor's desk to help clean ditches," she said.
U.S. Rep. Henry Brown stresses less government and individual property rights.
"I believe we must live within our means and balance our budget without a tax increase," he said. "I believe fee increases are the same as tax increases and therefore we can't grow government on these increases. I believe we must do all we can to create jobs. We have a 12 percent unemployment rate and our county cannot succeed with that many citizens out of work."
Economic development is a key for Brown, who hopes to attract Boeing and spin-off industries in the wake of the aircraft manufacturer's move to North Charleston. "The potential is there," he said.
County Supervisor Dan Davis stresses his accomplishments -- balancing the budget and cutting debt.
"We're making sound financial decisions. We're operating this year on the first balanced budget in 15 years. We're not increasing our debt; we're paying our debt off" and restoring the county's revenue reserve, he said. Davis also said promoting economic development is the key for the county's finances and jobs for its residents.
The candidates have different takes on how to work with council, whose members argued for nearly an hour at one meeting last year over how to put out bids for a public works excavator and left audience members shaking their heads. The back-and-forth was one session in a half-year odyssey over the purchase of a piece of equipment that already had been budgeted.
"Whenever you have a council that has animosity toward each other, you do not have a leader. You have bosses," Blackwell said. The supervisor has to model the respect and responsibility the council needs. "You have to walk the walk. You can't pick and choose who you work with. You don't have to agree with people, but your job is to serve everyone."
Brown pointed back to a term in the S.C. House of Representatives, when he took over the Ways and Means money-managing committee as the first Republican to do so in what was then a Democratic-controlled Legislature.
"You can imagine there was a lot of dissension," he said. He managed it by keeping many of the staff of the former committee chairman and working across the aisle with opponents. "I believe that test proved I'm a team player. I can work across party lines. I can work in an adverse climate and I believe we can calm those seas."
Davis puts off much of council's dissension as "just petty politics. As long as politics are the way they are, I don't really see a solution. In these economic times you have to put aside politics and make sure the county weathers the crisis," he said. He intends to bring council a balanced budget, he said. "If you've got a better budget, then present. We'll let the votes decide."
Minnie N. Blackwell
-- Age: 57
-- Family: Three daughters, two grandchildren
-- Residence: Hanahan
-- Occupation: Mayor of Hanahan, science teacher
-- Education: Ph.D., education
-- Public offices: Mayor of Hanahan, Hanahan City Council
-- Contact: MBlackwell@aol.com; 729-2210
Henry E. Brown Jr.
--Family: Wife, Billye Beaver Brown, three children, five grandchildren
--Occupation: Congressman, retired vice president at Piggly Wiggly Carolina Corp.
--Education: Berkeley County High School, courses at The Citadel, Baptist College, IBM Management and technical schools
--Public offices: U.S. House of Representatives, S.C. House of Representatives, Hanahan City Council
Daniel W. Davis
--Family: Wife Mary, one child
--Occupation: Berkeley County supervisor
--Education: B.A., political science; M.A., public administration
--Public offices: Berkeley County supervisor
--Website: (Facebook) Dan Davis, Berkeley County supervisor
--Contact: email@example.com; 719-4094