Two years ago, Democrat Eugene Platt barely missed out on winning the James Island/Folly Beach seat in the state House of Representatives, falling short to incumbent Republican Wallace Scarborough by 40 votes.
This year he's trying for the District 115 seat again, but first has to get by newcomer Anne Peterson Hutto in the June 10 Democratic primary.
"I'm running with more optimism than I did in 2006," said Platt, 69, who in January began walking door-to-door in the district's many neighborhoods. "I've shown to others as well as to myself that I can win. I'm working harder."
Peterson Hutto, 40, an attorney who has never sought public office, said she's ready to answer a lifelong calling of public service, and also the Democratic Party's call for more women in politics. "My life has been about working for individuals, that's what my practice has been," she said.
Peterson Hutto is a transplant from New York City. She met her husband in Charleston in 1996 when she came to visit friends. He's currently the chef at the U.S. Border Patrol train- ing station at the former Navy base.
Strengthening state and local education are among her key issues, including advocating pay raises for teachers and fair and equitable funding of schools. At the same time, she wants to reduce dropout rates while increasing classroom discipline.
"We have to lose this sense of we have good districts and bad districts," Peterson Hutto said.
Traffic is another issue facing the district. Peterson Hutto said the district's representative needs to fight for a bigger share of highway money to help fix or improve local routes. But she said she is "still learning and still reserving a decision" on whether she supports completing the full loop of the Mark Clark Expressway, which, as envisioned, would cross James Island and Folly Road.
Platt said he doesn't support completing the loop.
"I feel that it would cause more problems than it would help alleviate, including a very negative impact on the quality of life," he said, adding that a portion of James Island County Park apparently would be sliced if the road came through.
Of statewide concern, Platt said there is a lot of frustration over illegal immigration, and that he favors "reflecting those views in the Legislature," even if he finds himself at odds with other Democrats.
If Platt doesn't win the Democratic nomination June 10, he could still find his way onto the ballot in November.
He's also the nominee of the Working Families Party and said he was recently picked as the Green Party nominee for District 115.
Garry Baum, spokesman for the S.C. Election Commission, said it is possible under state law to be listed as a nominee of more than one political party, which is called being a "fusion" candidate.
ANNE PETERSON HUTTO
BIRTHDATE: Sept. 23, 1967.
FAMILY: Husband, David; children, Matthew 8; Adrianne, 5.
EDUCATION: Carbondale (Ill.) Community High; University of Notre Dame undergraduate, 1989; law degree Brooklyn Law School, N.Y.
PREVIOUS ELECTED OFFICE: None.
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR OFFICE? "I want to see real change and real representation for my district. I see the same problems occurring over again and not getting solved."
WHAT'S THE TOUGHEST ISSUE FACING THE STATE OR DISTRICT? "Education."
BIRTHDATE: Feb. 20, 1939.
FAMILY: Widowed (wife Mary died of breast cancer in 2003), two grown children, two grandchildren.
EDUCATION: St. Andrew's High School; B.A., University of South Carolina; diploma in Anglo-Irish Literature, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.
OCCUPATION: Retired from federal civil service; writer; community activist.
PREVIOUS ELECTED OFFICE: Member of James Island Public Service District Commission since 1993.
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR OFFICE? "Looking to serve people of James Island at a higher government level. Encouragement from last Statehouse run in 2006."
WHAT'S THE TOUGHEST ISSUE FACING THE STATE OR THE DISTRICT? "Environmental protection is a favorite cause of mine. Public education continues to be an issue."