By Andrew Pauly
When Horry County voters go to the polls Tuesday, June 9 to vote in the primary election, they will decide who will challenge Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC-7), a loyal supporter of President Donald Trump and his policies.
Also on the ballot are candidates for key positions in the SC State Legislature, with competitive races in Senate Districts 30 and 32 and House District 57.
For those who have yet to cast their absentee ballot and who plan to vote in person, here’s a thumbnail summary of the candidates who will be on the ballot. You can also learn more by visiting HCDP’s Candidate page here, or by visiting individual candidates’ websites.
“It’s essential that Democrats get out and vote in our primary election,” said HCDP Chair Don Kohn. “Learn about the candidates and then exercise this precious right that we all have. If you haven’t registered yet, please do so right away so you can vote in the November general election, which will be the most consequential election of our lifetime. It’s time for all of us to take a stand to preserve our cherished democracy.”
US House of Representatives
Challenging incumbent Republican Tom Rice for his seat in the US House of Representatives representing South Carolina District 7 are Melissa Watson, SC State Rep. Robert Williams and William Williams.
Melissa Watson is an educator and was chosen as the Rookie Teacher of the Year at Baptist Hill High School. She holds an undergraduate degree from the College of Charleston, a graduate degree from the Citadel and is a doctoral candidate at the University of Phoenix. She was co-chair of Senator Kamala Harris’s campaign for president, chair of Berkeley County Democratic Party, and the South Carolina Democratic Party’s deputy secretary as well as numerous other campaign and volunteer positions in Democratic politics.
Watson is running on the platform of bringing common sense and middle class values to Washington. She supports increasing the minimum wage to ensure a living wage for all South Carolinians and hopes to bring green jobs to South Carolina. She also plans to fight for small business loans to minorities. Watson is adamant about increasing education funding to ensure all students will be prepared for the future. Part of her plan is to secure tax credits for businesses that create partnerships with local schools to provide services and technology.
Watson also backs increased funding to improve South Carolina infrastructure to preserve the tourist industry that is so crucial to our economy. She is a strong supporter of the environment and vows to never allow off-shore drilling. She wants to preserve forests, rivers, lakes, and streams and to invest in wind energy, make healthcare more affordable and accessible, and will fight to protect women’s reproductive rights and make decisions about their own bodies. Although she is a Second Amendment supporter, she will fight to close the loopholes and reinstate the assault weapons ban and has met the criteria set by Moms Demand Action.
Robert Williams served in the Iraqi War and is a retired member of the National Guard. He is an active member of the Leadership Team at Round O Baptist Church in Darlington, SC and is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, the American Legion, and the Coker University Leadership and Entrepreneur Advisory Council.
In the South Carolina House of Representatives, he has served on the Legislative Oversight Committee, the Agriculture, Natural Resource, and Environmental Affairs Committee, and has championed a wide range of legislation aimed at taking on big-money interests and improving the lives of everyday South Carolinians. He was the Democratic nominee against Rice in the 2018 election.
Robert believes that universal healthcare is a right and pledges to fight to ensure that everyone has access to sustainable, affordable, and equitable options. He would create a public system rather than relying on private companies to deliver acceptable healthcare options. He also supports lowering drug costs by cutting non-essential regulations on pharmaceutical companies to increase competition.
Regarding climate change, Robert believes the United States must lead by example. He supports a carbon-tax and a cap-and-trade system to provide tax breaks to environmentally friendly businesses and to tax rebates to low-income households. He also vows to prohibit offshore drilling to protect our vital tourist industry.
As a concealed carry permit holder, Robert understands the importance of the Second Amendment. However, he backs universal background checks, limiting access to lethal gun accessories, banning assault style weapons to the general public, imposing mental health requirements, and other legislation to limit the possibility of disaster.
Robert is a supporter of free universal community college and technical school to help alleviate the burden of student debt and rising costs of higher education as well as student loan forgiveness to low-income individuals. Robert would grow small businesses by eliminating programs that prevent them from hiring and by enhancing community block grants. He also supports an increase in the federal minimum wage and a 5 percent increase in state employee salaries.
Because homeownership is part of the foundation of every community, he would seek to expand opportunities in rural areas by providing incentives to build new homes, prevent housing discrimination by denying Federal Housing Administration funding to landowners who discriminate against tenants, and providing tax incentives and restructuring zoning regulations.
Robert believes men and women should receive equal compensation for their work. He plans to fight against workplace discrimination and for greater protections and an economic safety net for women who are victims of domestic violence. Robert also supports tax reform to close loopholes, and to increase the marginal tax rate on the top income bracket.
William Cowboy Williams grew up in an impoverished household. Being the youngest of eight and having four siblings die early in life, William’s hard work and determination though a local youth program, he was able to better his life.
William served in the Vietnam War from 1968-1967. He then earned a BS in Business Administration from South Carolina State University, an MBA from Webster University, and was accepted into the Capella University Doctoral program. For 28 years, William worked for the US Postal Service as a clerk and carrier, eventually working his way up to postmaster. William says he is running because he believes he can be a voice for the people.
William plans to address crime by seeking help from the local communities and law enforcement to promote trust and allow for the protection of communities. He believes that equal pay for women is a right and will fight to ensure equal rights. William supports legalizing hemp to help promote the South Carolina economy. He plans to address homelessness by seeking to improve the conditions of those in need of housing. William plans to address immigration reform to ensure immigrants can enter the United States in a fair and civil manner. One of William’s most focused visions is to ensure the I-73 Corridor will continue as planned as it will bring jobs, businesses and tourism to South Carolina.
William plans to look for corporations that will be interested in partnerships, apprenticeships, and on the job training to help stimulate job growth in the district. He also believes healthcare is a key issue for senior citizens and plans to fight to ensure each monthly premium is fair and affordable.
William believes adamantly that prison reform is needed. He hopes to reduce the number of children being incarcerated and plans on ensuring fair sentencing guidelines relative to the crime. He is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and will fight for veterans to make sure their concerns are addressed.
SC Senate District 30
Incumbent Sen. Kent Williams is seeking reelection and is being challenged by Patrick Richardson.
Williams graduated from Florence-Darlington Technical College with an Associate Science Degree and received a BS from South Carolina State University. He is a member and steward at St. James A.M.E. Church. He formerly worked for Independence Federal Savings and Loan Bank in Washington DC, South Carolina State University, Clemson Extension Service, and is currently the Deputy County Administrator for Marion County. In the Senate, he served on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, the Banking and Insurance Committee, the Finance Committee, the Fish, Game and Forestry Committee, the Labor, Commerce & Industry Committee, and as the Chairman of the Agriculture Subcommittee in 2015.
Patrick Richardson is challenging Williams. Richardson attended Georgetown Technical College before transferring to Delaware State University where he earned a BA in History. He earned his Master’s degree in Public Administration from Strayer University. He is a branch manager of a bank in the Marion area.
Richardson’s platform is focused on growth and change. He plans to focus on job creation, fighting to bring better paying jobs to the entire district, and to improve education and facilities, as well as infrastructure. Patrick believes in community reinvestment to meet local needs.
SC Senate District 32
Sen. Ronnie Saab is being challenged by Ted Brown, Manley Collins, and Kelly Spann.
Sen. Saab received a BS in mathematics from Voorhees College and earned a law degree from the University of Florida. He was admitted to the South Carolina Bar and the United States District Court in 1988. and He is the president and CEO of the Saab Law Group, LLC. Saab served as an assistant solicitor with the third judicial circuit and was the first African-American to serve as the attorney for Lake City and as general counsel for Santee Electric Cooperative.
Sen. Saab is running on a progressive platform with the slogan, “together we can.” He plans to improve and continue to grow infrastructure throughout the district through water, sewer, and broadband expansion. He supports increasing teachers’ pay and says he plans to enhance education by providing educators with incentives such as salary increases. Saab plans on fighting to make healthcare affordable to all. Sen. Saab is dedicated to searching for alternative energy solutions to bring down the cost of power and our reliance on foreign oil. He believes that creating a coalition between municipalities, unincorporated associations, and community clubs and leaders will help development within the community by promoting progressive improvements.
Challenging Sen. Saab is Dr. Manley Collins. Dr. Collins graduated from South Carolina State University with a BS and. He then earned a Master of Science and MBA from DeVry University. He then went on to graduate from University of Phoenix with a PhD of Management. Dr. Collins currently serves as a substitute teacher. Dr. Collins actively participates in charity marches such as March of Dimes and Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. His platform is focused on service, gratefulness, and vocalization. He plans to focus on bringing jobs to the district, furthering education, and alleviating poverty.
Ted Brown, is the third candidate challenging Senator Saab. Ted was born as the ninth child in his family. He graduated from University of South Carolina and Durham technical Institute. He completed an Optical Fellowship at W.K. Kellogg Eye Institute at the University of Michigan and opened the first of several independently African-American owned optical offices. Brown has served as a member of the National Contact Lens Test Writers’ Committee for the National Contact Lens Examiners Board.
He previously served in the SC House of Representatives District 103, was. He was also Chairman of the Head Start Policy Council for Horry, Georgetown, and Williamsburg Counties, Lieutenant Governor for Kiwanis International, District 20, and a member of the Salvation Army Board.
During his time in the SC House of Representatives, Ted helped secure $500,000 to create and secure the Choppee Health Center in Georgetown. Ted’s primary platform is securing funds to improve resources. He advocates for local control of schools, more funding for healthcare, jobs, senior citizens support, and small business assistance as well as providing more opportunities for youth and young adults.
Kelly Span Jr. was a member of the Berkeley County School District school board. No additional information was provided to HCDP by this candidate.
South Carolina House of Representatives District 57
The incumbent, Carl Anderson, is being challenged by Miko Pickett.
Rep. Anderson is a minister at Greater St. Stephen A.M.E. Church in Georgetown, and is an insurance agent. He received a Business Administration Degree from Horry-Georgetown Technical College, attended L.R. Nichols Seminary, Christian Bible College, and received his Ph.D. from Francis Marion University. He was a member of the Salvation Army Board, Horry-Georgetown Technical College Advisory Board, H-G Minority Business Board, Kensington Elementary Advisory Board, Battery-Park Elementary School Improvement Council, Williamsburg Care, Inc. Board, Georgetown County Port Task Force Committee, and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators Executive Board. He is a member of the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee, and serves as the First Vice Chair of the Regulations and Admin. Procedures Committee in the South Carolina House of Representatives.
Miko Pickett has worked in information technology for 30 years and has served 18 years as an executive for a major corporation. Her husband founded a non-profit called Pick 42 to assist community members communicate with Federal and State agencies in a time of crisis, with which she is involved with. Pickett’s platform focuses on disaster recovery in the state of South Carolina, increasing the minimum wage, and honoring those who serve our country.
The mail-in application for an absentee ballot is June 5 and the deadline for submission is June 9. In-person absentee voting is available until 5 p.m. June 8 at the Horry County Election Office at 1515 4th Avenue in Conway.
The Voter Registration and Elections office will be open Saturday, June 6 for in-person absentee voting from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Due to the outcome of a court case, for this Primary and a possible June 23rd Run-Off (if needed), all registered voters are eligible to vote absentee.
A list of polling places can be found here. Any questions should be directed to scvotes.gov.