Candidates for S.C. Senate District 2 were asked the following questions:
1. Ethics reform is a concern of a growing number of South Carolinians. What is your proposed plan of action for the next term to address this issue?
2. Roads and infrastructure are a major concern and taking into account all budgetary factors, what is your proposed solution and does it include a tax on gasoline purchases?
3. A growing topic across the state of South Carolina is a concern over Second Amendment Rights. What is your position on licensing/permitting weapons, concealed carry, and gun safety on school campuses?
Sen. Larry Martin — Incumbent
Senator Larry A. Martin, 58, is a lifelong resident of Pickens County and resides in Pickens. He is married to the former Susan Evatt of Pendleton for thirty-three years. Susan is a teacher at Pickens Middle School. They have three children and one grandchild. Martin is a 35 year associate of Alice Mfg. Co. in Easley. Martin is the first non-lawyer, businessman to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee. He served from 1979-92 in the S.C. House and was elected to the state Senate in 1992.
I’ve led the effort in the state Senate to enact meaningful ethics reform. We’re close to adopting a bill that will provide for independent investigations of ethics complaints involving members of the Legislature. The same Ethics Commission that handles an ethics complaint against a governor or county council member should also handle complaints involving members of the Legislature. I also have proposed that all sources of private income of public officials be disclosed. Finally, independent campaigns that advocate the election or defeat of a candidate should be required to disclose their donors and expenditures. The public has a right to know who is attempting to influence its vote.
I’ve supported and will continue to insist on a highly accountable, well managed Department of Transportation as a “must have” as more funding is committed to repairing our roads. The DOT must be run as an executive branch agency, not an arm of the Legislature. The DOT should have final approval authority for the State Infrastructure Bank projects. Such a plan should be up in the Senate for a final vote this week. It will also include using current revenues to provide bonds for over $2 billion of needed highway improvements, including the repaving of primary roads. This ambitious highway bill with no tax increase should provide all of the highway paving and construction work for which we have contractors available to do the work for the next three to five years.
I oppose gun registration which is a license or a permit to own a weapon. I helped to enact our state’s first CWP law twenty years ago which enables law abiding citizens to carry a weapon on their person if they choose to do so. I have been leading the effort to enact a bill to extend CWP reciprocity with our neighbor, Georgia. I do not support carrying a weapon without a CWP, primarily for two reasons. One reason is that in SC the law only prohibits persons convicted of a violent felony from possessing a weapon. Persons with serious criminal backgrounds, non-violent felonies and misdemeanors, could and would lawfully carry a weapon without a permit. Another important reason is the safety and self-defense training associated in obtaining a CWP. Lastly, I do not support changing the law so persons can carry weapons into schools or college campuses.
Allan Quinn — Challenger
Ethics Reform: Probably not going to pass this year although pushed hard by our current Senator. All it was is the same policy we have now just reworded. Same as current policies. I am for complete disclosure of all income to a legislator. This is the only way it can be determined if a Senator is being bought by special interest or if they have the interest of citizens and taxpayers at heart which at this time it’s obvious our Senator does not. Good example: Larry Martin is trying a last minute bill to protect car dealers that overcharged people for closing cost. The car dealers gave at least $17,000 to his campaign after he introduced bill. Probably won’t or shouldn’t pass because session ends tomorrow unless extended. He may get enough support from other career politicians that play the good old boy system to conduct business. True ethics reform will have them report all sources of income for true transparency. This is a problem at federal and state level, must change. This is not the system of government our forefathers gave us.
Roads: No new taxes until Roads Governance System is completely overhauled. Currently Road Commissioners in SC (7) are appointed by career politicians. This means they are beholden to them for their jobs so they fix roads they are told to not those that need it. This is an antiquated system that had NO chance of working. It was implemented in about 2007 and has failed dismally. The way to fix it is to form a committee to study other states and find best system that works and adapt it for SC. We need to stop trying to re-invent the wheel in SC and get corruption out of our Roads Governance system. My prediction is that the watered down roads bill will not pass this year after 2 years of debate and when they study a successful system they will find Road Commissioners are elected by the people who will not re-elect them if roads aren’t kept up. Right now Senator Hugh Leatherman from Florence is on every committee to has anything to do with roads funding, consequently most road money is going to lower part of the state. Root problem of problems we have in Pickens County are career politicians that only care about voters at Election time.
I am the strongest Candidate when it comes to Second Amendment as our Forefathers wrote it (no infringement). We need to protect No Weapon zones because these are places that need protection from thugs, terrorists, or mentally ill people. This would include training and arming teachers and administrators and/or retired military, police officers, etc. Unfortunately we are living in a rapidly changing world and must adapt even if it takes meeting bad forces with good forces. Don’t know what those against Second Amendment rights don’t understand about the threats we face today. Our forefathers were apparently smarter than we are or maybe not as politically correct as our society has become. Our current senator is very, very weak on Second Amendment rights and if he wins again you will probably lose that protection and will also lose our Confederate monuments because they will be next.
Rex Rice — Challenger
Ethics reform: I would support legislation to insure complete and full disclosure that is accessible to the public. The public is entitled to complete information related to all campaign disclosure documents down to receipts. In addition, there should be full disclosure of all campaign contributors and political advertising.
Roads: The road issue has to be dealt with immediately. The transportation system is one of the most basic responsibilities of state government. In the short term, priority needs to be given to projects that immediately make our roads safer like adding a “rumble strip” down the center line to help prevent cross over collisions. Additionally, DOT needs a comprehensive audit and restructuring, and get DOT out of the hands of the legislature and under the governor to provide single-source responsibility. Long term, we have to create and implement a funding formula that provides for ongoing maintenance. Before we raise any taxes, we need to insure the stewardship of the funds already being collected.
Second Amendment Rights: I am opposed to licensing and registering weapons because I do not believe the government should be inventorying our firearms. I support Constitutional Carry. In addition, anyone with a CWP should be allowed to carry anywhere including campuses because gun-free zones only provide the ability to carry for those who would break the law.
Information for this article compiled by D. C. Moody.