January wasn’t a banner month for public service in South Carolina. Former S.C. Rep. Thad Viers of Myrtle Beach was indicted once again on charges related to his ex-girlfriend, this time accused of burglarizing her home. A town councilman from Elgin was arrested and charged with vandalizing a gun range. And the S.C. Highway Patrol’s top internal affairs officer – the man charged with investigating his fellow officers for misconduct – was fired for misconduct. But it would be wrong to read such news and infer that public servants as a whole are untrustworthy or criminal.
Citizens have always had a healthy skepticism of the motives of their government. And politicians in particular have seen opinion polls of their performance at all levels dip lower and lower.
Nevertheless, we still believe that most of these men and women who fill our government are inspired by a desire to truly serve the public that they’re charged with serving. We certainly don’t agree with every decision they make and we will hold their feet to the fire when we feel some situation needs to change. But it is the rare public servant who is truly crooked, corrupt or criminal.
Instead, most of those who fill our government are hard-working, caring folks; people who ensure that our lives and homes are protected, our water is clean, the lights come on when we flip the switch, the trash gets picked up and our children are educated.
We’ve certainly had our fair share of scandals and flameouts in the political realm – Alvin Greene’s bizarre Senate candidacy, Treasurer Thomas Ravenel’s cocaine history, Lt. Gov Ken Ard’s ethics issues and Rep. Ted Vick’s DUI arrest come to mind just from the past few years – but they are gratefully the exceptions, not the rules. It’s inevitable that there are a few bad apples among the thousands of public servants in South Carolina. But the vast majority, who are dedicated and responsible and honest, deserve our thanks, which we offer far too infrequently.
So, from The Sun News editorial board to you, thank you for working to make Myrtle Beach, Horry County and South Carolina a better place for all of us.