All five candidates in the race for S.C. House District 105 have similar ideas for the district. They’re also all Republicans and petition candidates.
One-term incumbent George Hearn is not running for re-election leaving the field wide-open for Mike Connett, Kevin Hardee, Blake Hewitt, Bert Von Herrmann and Bill Wiegand.
Connett could not be reached for comment. Jobs are at the top of the list for Hardee, Von Herrmann and Wiegand.Getting Horry County working is the goal for all of them, though their views on attracting businesses is slightly different.
Wiegand said the corporate income tax is a big problem.
“Right now, taxes on the small business man are way too high and we need to do away with corporate income tax,” he said.
He said incentives, which aren’t fair to businesses already set up in Horry County, wouldn’t be necessary if there was no corporate income tax.
Hardee said incentives could work and should be looked at on a case by case basis with each company coming in.
“One shoe does not fit all, that’s for sure,” he s aid. “Most businesses want tax breaks and the trade off is they’re creating jobs. It’s important to balance those jobs and make sure they’re higher paying jobs.”
Von Hermann said it’s important to bring in the right jobs.
“It’s not just employment,” he said. “But raising the level of the average weekly pay which is about $200 lower than the other metropolitan cities like Columbia, Charleston and Greenville.”
Hewitt had similar opinions to Von Hermann and Hardee, and said an educated population could help entice new businesses to come in. Education is one area he’d like the state to prioritize.
Hewitt, Hardee, Von Hermann and Wiegand agree those jobs won’t move to Horry County without an interstate. They support the construction of Interstate 73. Each also wants to see the railroads operating again.
“Every industry asks do you have rail access and do you have interstate access,” Hardee said. “Currently we have neither. I’m in favor of I-73 … It’s not just more easily accessible to tourists but easier for industry to get their products in and out.”
Wiegand, too, said an interstate is the first thing industrial companies ask for and should be a priority along with improvements to S.C. 378 and completion of the Southern Evacuation Lifeline.
Von Herrmann said the railroad would be more readily helpful to bringing jobs to town.
“I-73 is a great idea, but the problem is we’re talking, at best, years down the road,” he said. “We have to get this railroad working … Every train car that travels through here is the equivalent of four tractor trailers. That would alleviate congestion, wear on the roads. All the things we complain about short of having to wait two minutes at a railroad crossing.”
Hewitt said there needs to be improvements on U.S. 501 also.
“It’s a heavy, heavy corridor that needs some relief,” he said.
He wasn’t sure what the solution is, but said he’s open to ideas.
“If you’ve ever sat in traffic on U.S. 501 when it takes an hour to go seven miles, you know we’ve got infrastructure problems.”
Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381.