Political party: Republican
Office: Beaufort County Council District 6
Number of years living in the district you seek to represent: 11 years
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Family: Wife, Norma Gold; five grown children; 15 grandchildren
Education: Wilmington College in Wilmington, Ohio; South Dakota School of Mines & Technology; doctorate degree in chemistry from the University of Idaho; postdoctoral studies at Washington University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Current occupation/employer: Beaufort County Council District 6 representative
Employment, military and volunteer history: Research assistant at the University of Idaho; postdoctoral associate at Washington University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; assistant professor at West Virginia University; chief supporting research at the U.S. Department of Energy Morgantown Energy Research Center; chairman and chief executive of Industrial Technologies Inc. in Trubull, Conn.
Public offices held: Beaufort County Council District 6, 2007 to present
Unsuccessful bids for public office: S.C. House of Representatives District 120 in 2012
Other prior political and government experience: None
Key endorsements you've received: U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, Sen. Tom Davis, Rep. Bill Herbkersman, Rep. Weston Newton, McNair Law Firm, Vaux & Marscher, James Wedgeworth, David Tigges, Roberts Vaux, Jim Scheider
Campaign contributions: $5,204
Campaign expenditures: $2,032.82
Biggest contributor: Robert Graves Sr., $1,000
Why should people vote for you?
Experience and a well-rounded professional career: I have a doctorate degree in chemistry, was a faculty member at a state university, director of research at a U.S. Department of Energy regional laboratory, chairman and CEO of an international public company, and current councilman. On council, I serve as chairman of the Governmental Committee and as a member of the Finance, Public Facility and Natural Resources committees. Other appointments include those to the Lowcountry Economic Alliance board of directors, Lowcountry Council of Governments board of directors, S.C. Association of Counties Legislative Steering Committee and Technical College of the Lowcountry commission liaison.
What are the three most important issues you would address if elected?
When making a decision on Council I consider its effect on three key issues, what I consider the three E's: Economy, education and environment.
1. Economy -- It is important for Beaufort County to diversify and increase its tax base through quality economic growth, not by increasing property taxes on its homeowners. Quality growth means supporting our existing businesses while at the same time working to attract new primary businesses -- those that pay above-average salaries, provide quality benefits and provide jobs with a career path. Jobs that allow families to live, work and raise a family in Beaufort County.
2. Education -- We must continue to improve education in Beaufort County. This should be done by managing both performance and the prudent use of resources (financial and facilities) not by automatic increases in revenue (taxes). Workforce-development programs need to be more carefully monitored and consolidated as they are currently too fragmented. Continued support for STEM, aeronautics programs, vocational programs in county schools and centers of excellence at both the University of South Carolina Beaufort and the Technical College of the Lowcountry are needed.
3. Environment -- Continue protecting the environment using the county's stormwater ordinance, which sets the standard for other jurisdictions, along with supporting the Rural & Critical Lands Program. However, some changes are needed. Sections of the stormwater ordinance need rewriting to avoid confusion, such as recent issues with impervious surface. The Rural & Critical Lands program should not require all lands be placed under conservation easement, such as those lands around Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. Rather, they should remain on the tax rolls for controlled economic development.
What other issues do you see as important?
1. Economic development -- The Lowcountry Economic Alliance should be the umbrella agency for regional economic development. The county needs to provide long-term support for economic development, both strategically and financially. Support should be for both growing existing and attracting new businesses. Incentives should be through infrastructure/land/job credits, etc., not direct cash to the company. Money collected from business licenses should be used as the source of continued financial support for economic development. Economic development is a marathon not a sprint. Although both economic development and economic growth are critical to diversifying the tax base, they are totally different and need to be addressed as such.
2. Military affairs -- Remain vigilant in our efforts to retain our military bases, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and Naval Hospital Beaufort. Together, these facilities provide more revenue to Beaufort County annually than tourism.
3. Public safety -- Continue to implement recommendations identified in the most recent public-safety review. Although many of the recommendations have been implemented (such as new radio equipment for all public safety vehicles, new dispatch software, two new/renovated fire stations, manning two satellite fire stations, new ambulances and crews,) there is more to consider.
What specific steps will you take to make government more open and accessible to the public?
As a county councilman, I can only comment on that which council controls. Council has been proactive in making government open and accessible to the public. The County Channel has been a leader in broadcasting all council and committee meetings, as well as those of the school board. It broadcasts public service announcements and Lowcountry documentaries. The county website, www.bcgov.net, provides access to all meetings through video on demand; all documents presented to council members; complete financial information; access to all resolutions, ordinances, minutes and agendas of meetings; public safety information and much more. Council continues to strive for complete transparency in government operations.
Have you ever been convicted of a felony, been disciplined by a professional licensing board or organization or had an ethics violation filed against you?
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy, been delinquent on your federal, state or local taxes? If so, please give the details.
Are there any personal details about yourself that voters would be interested in knowing?
Running for public office is like applying for a job. As employers expect applicants to have prior experience, the electorate should expect the same of candidates. Prior to running for County Council, I prepared myself by:
- Completing the Clemson Leadership Course.
- Joining Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, serving on their legislative affairs committee.
- Joining the Greater Island Council.
- Being appointed to Sun City Hilton Head's Government and Business Affairs Committee.
- Serving on Bluffton's economic development committee.
- Being appointed to the county's Solid Waste and Recycling Board.
- Attending council and committee meetings.
- Working with my predecessor learning the inner workings of council.