Election Day next Tuesday

COUNTY — After a long and grueling political year, the November general election is finally nearly upon us.

From the decertification of dozens of candidates for the June primary election to lawsuits and allegations flying between candidates and party officials in the months since, this political season has been filled with more turmoil than any in recent memory, and many voters will be glad just to have the election over come next Tuesday night.

Not only will local voters get their say in whether Democrat Barack Obama remains in the White House or is knocked out by Republican challenger Mitt Romney, but several local seats are up for grabs and should feature tight races to determine who will represent the people of Pickens County.

Many of those knocked off the ballot as Republicans due to the state’s ruling in May re-filed as petition candidates. Other prospective candidates also filed as petition candidates simply because they had missed the deadline for the Republican Primary.

So while only one local candidate on the ballot claims to be a Democrat (Brian B. Doyle for U.S. House District 3), there are multiple petition candidates on local ballots.

Voters are reminded that those who choose to vote “straight ticket” will not be able to vote for petition candidates, despite most being Republicans.
Polls will be open next Tuesday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m., and some precincts have undergone changes, so voters are urged to confirm ahead of time where they will cast their ballots. Pickens County voters all received new registration cards in the mail recently.

For a sample ballot and precint listing for Tuesday’s election, turn to page 5A. Below is a listing of the offices up for grabs and the candidates vying for seats.

County Offices
The shock of the June Republican primary came when Liberty city councilman Rick Clark defeated longtime incumbent C. David Stone, eliminating the sheriff of more than 40 years from his bid for yet another re-election.

In Tuesday’s election Clark will face assistant sheriff Tim Morgan and Stan Whitten — both petition candidates — to see who will lead the sheriff’s office.
Clark promises to provide the training, technology and leadership to move ahead in solving crimes and protecting the people of Pickens County.

Clark has also promised to bring fiscal responsibility back to the sheriff’s office. Currently, members who have opted for an early retirement essentially draw two paychecks — one for their job duties and one for their retirement pay. Clark promises to end this practice.

Morgan said that as assistant sheriff, he felt he would be disloyal to run against the man who helped him start his career. But with Stone no longer in the race, he felt free to seek the office of sheriff.

Morgan is running on his experience on the job. He credits the current staff for its hard work and dedication in protecting the citizens of Pickens County.
Whitten was a candidate knocked off the primary ballot by the court decision that eliminated dozens of candidates throughout the state from the ballot. He chose to run in the general election as a petition candidate.

Morgan and Whitten agree that anyone should be allowed to seek public office and signed each other’s petitions.

Whitten, an Easley native, is a master deputy with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. He also serves a a firefighter with the Easley Fire Department.
Whitten is a proponent of transparency and full disclosure by the sheriff’s office.
Other Republicans seeking re-election to county offices who are unopposed include: Auditor Brent Suddeth, Clerk of Court Pat Welborn, Coroner Kandy Kelley and Treasurer Dale Looper.

County Council
Council members G. Neil Smith in District 4 and Tom Ponder in District 6 have no opposition in their quest for re-election. But seats in districts 3 and 5 will be determined in Tuesday’s election.

In District 3, Republican Randy Crenshaw will face off with petition candidate Kevin Link.

Crenshaw may seem familiar to Pickens County voters, because he formerly held the council seat for District 2, until voters selected Trey Whitehurst to serve on council, with Whitehurst winning the seat by just two votes. Now Crenshaw hopes to succeed Councilman Sam Wyche, who chose not to seek re-election.
Link — whose full name is “Linkenhover” but will appear on the ballot simply as “Kevin Link,” — has campaigned on bringing more jobs to Pickens County.
District 5’s race will feature current council chair Jennifer H. Willis, the Republican candidate, facing opposition from petition candidate Chris Bowers.
Willis is seeking her fourth two-year term and is most proud of her work on economic development in Pickens County.

Bowers said he will only approve of spending for infrastructure to bring in better jobs to Pickens County.

School Board
Three of the six seats on the School District of Pickens County’s board of trustees are up for grabs this election, but in District 1 (Clemson area) and District 3 (Pickens area) the incumbents are unopposed. Herbert Cooper and Alex Saitta will be re-elected to their seats, barring a successful write-in effort.
The only school board seat that faces opposition is District 5, where incumbent Judy Edwards faces challenges from Valerie Ramsey and David Whittemore.
Edwards, a teacher for 30 years at East End Elementary School, retired from the School District of Pickens County.

Edwards has pushed for STEP increases for Pickens County teachers for the first time in four years.

Ramsey is a retired chief business officer, retiring from Clemson University after 33 years. She is an adjunct professor and chair of the United Way of Pickens County. Ramsey is passionate about the county’s drop-out rate.

Whittemore served for 19 years on Easley city council. His main goal is to see that the new facilities built by the district’s massive construction project are maintained well into the future.

School board seats are non-partisan, so voters who choose the straight-ticket option will not be able to vote in the school districts.

State Offices
State House District 4’s Davey Hiott and District 10’s Joshua Putnam will win another term, as both are unchallenged in next Tuesday’s election, but Rep. B.R. Skelton faces stiff competition from petition candidate Ed Harris for the District 3 seat.

Harris actually received more votes than Skelton in the Republican Party’s June Primary, but his win was later de-certified by state Republican Party Chairman Chad Connelly.

Harris immediately gathered the required signatures to run against Skelton as a petition candidate and will square off in Tuesday’s election. The rematch should be interesting, open to all voters instead of voters of just one party. But as there was no Democratic primary in Pickens County, results could resemble those of the Republican primary.

US House
In one of the quieter local races, incumbent U.S. Representative Jeff Duncan — a Republican — faces the challenge of Democrat Brian Doyle.

Duncan is finishing his first term as the representative for S.C. District 3. A Clemson graduate, Duncan is the president of J. Duncan Associates, a real-estate marketing firm. Duncan spent time in the South Carolina House of Representatives, where he received the “taxpayer’s hero” award from Gov. Mark Sanford.

In the U.S. House, Duncan sits on the Natural Resources Committee, the Homeland Security Committee, and the Foreign Affairs Committeee.

South Carolina residents get the chance to approve or vote down small changes in their state constitution each year at the ballot box.

This year there is only one proposed amendment, but it covers a wide area, covering the duties of the Lt. Governor.

The Lt. Governor’s position in state government is often compared to the role of the vice president in the federal government, because if the governor, for whatever reason, is unable to fulfill the duties of that office, the Lt. Governor assumes those duties and finishes the governor’s term.

But in South Carolina, the Lt. Governor also serves as the leader on the floor of the state senate, pushing bills through the legislature. The Lt. Governor votes, just like the members of the state senate, and also operates the state agency on aging.

The proposed amendment would change all that. The most notable change would be that the Governor and the Lt. Governor would run on a joint ticket, just like the President and Vice President do on federal ballots.

This would mean the state would avoid the uncomfortable feeling of having its two executive officers coming from different parties. A party would not gain the state’s executive office through the untimely death of the governor.

In turn, the Lt. Governor would no longer preside over the state senate, and would only vote in the senate if votes on a bill came out tied.

The bill also provides that in the case of a vacancy in the Lt. Governor office, the Governor, with consent of the senate, will name the new Lt. Governor. This perhaps was inspired by the situation of former Lt. Gov. Ken Ard, who resigned after he faced indictment by a grand jury. Sen. Glenn McConnell of Charleston reluctantly accepted the Lt. Governor position, because by Senate rules he was next in line. McConnell gave up the power he had built up as the longest-serving state senator, largely because he felt it was his duty to follow the state’s rules.
A “no” vote would keep the Lt. Governor position as it is, presiding over the senate and elected on a separate ticket from the governor.