Ard looks for solutions, not someone to blame

Ken Ard's approach to governing, with its focus on getting the job done versus scoring personal political points, wins our support for his bid to be lieutenant governor.

Ard, who has served six years on Florence County Council, recognizes the impact decisions made by those in charge can have on the rest of us. And his experience as the owner of a manufacturing business has taught him that when you're in charge, you have to own up to your mistakes, as well as take credit for the successes.

He brings that approach to his public life as well.

Until Gov. Mark Sanford returned from his trip to Argentina, few of us paid much attention to the office of lieutenant governor.

The part-time office involves presiding over the state Senate and running the Office on Aging, a relatively recent addition to the job description. And the Office on Aging is still the focus of much of the campaign debate on who should be our next lieutenant governor.

Ard can put his experience managing a business to good use in evaluating and making more efficient the Office on Aging, an increasingly important agency as the number of older people in our state increases.

But his aspirations for the lieutenant governor's job go beyond that, even as he recognizes the limits he would operate under as lieutenant governor. He calls the lieutenant governor of South Carolina the most underutilized office in state government. It offers a bully pulpit that can be used to promote the state, especially to bring jobs here. He points to economic development successes in Florence County, "the most challenged area of our state, socially, economically, educationally," to show it can be done through public-private teamwork.

His pragmatism can be seen in his frank assessment of the state's strengths and its weaknesses. To land jobs, education needs to be improved. "We're failing our young people and their families."

Ard said he doesn't like offering incentives to attract businesses. "It's not government's job to create jobs." He believes government should create the environment that allows the private sector to thrive.

But he recognizes that other states do offer incentives, and South Carolina must compete. The key is to assess the risks and rewards from these incentives for taxpayers.

Ard admits he didn't trust politicians before he was elected to County Council. He thinks differently now.

And he admits he would do some things differently if he had the chance. We respect that honesty. It shows maturity.

The bottom line: Ard wants solutions-based government, not one dominated by finger-pointing and name-calling. That's an attitude we can get behind.