For the past 18 years, Tracy Edge has served residents in Dist. 104 in the S.C. House of Representatives, something he says makes him the best person to be reelected and serve another term.
But its that longevity in office that challenger, former North Myrtle Beach City Council member Gregory Duckworth, says is the reason residents deserve a new representative.
The two Republicans faced off in 2012, and citing momentum since retiring from North Myrtle Beach City Council in December, Duckworth said he thinks the close race puts him in a better position to win this time around. No Democrats filed to run for the seat.
“He’s out of touch with the local people now,” Duckworth said, who served three terms in City Council. “I retired so that somebody else would have a chance to serve.”
Edge said being a state legislator is about building relationships and cites his nine terms in office for enabling him to serve on the Ways and Means Committee and helping to draft the state budget and tax laws.
“I’m the only Grand Strand member on the Ways and Means Committee,” he said. “I’m the only voice we have to influence state budget and tax policy. ... If I were replaced, it would be another eight to 10 years before they would be eligible to serve on that committee.”
Both Duckworth and Edge say improving infrastructure is the a key need in their district, but they each have different ideas of the best way to move forward.
“Most people recognize that infrastructure is a necessity to any area,” Duckworth said. “To us it’s even more so.”
Duckworth said he believes that Interstate 73 needs to be brought to the area. The proposed interstate would run from Michigan to Myrtle Beach.
“It needs to come before I-74,” he said. “Being such a major resort area without a major highway is a difficult situation.”
But Edge said he believes the more immediate need is to extend Carolina Bays Parkway to Interstate 74.
“[Extending] Carolina Bays Parkway solves a number of problems, and provides major traffic relief in North Myrtle Beach and Little River,” he said.
Duckworth said, if elected, he also hopes to be able to address what he calls a “Grand Canyon between the haves and have-nots.”
“It’s easy to say we need to bring higher paying jobs to our area, but you have to look at the people first,” he said. “You have to look at the Grand Strand as a whole. We want to make sure that as we identify new industries that are compatible with the industries are here, we build a foundation with the people of District 104. By raising the intellectual capital, we’ll see growth in a positive way.”
Edge said if he is reelected he hopes to continue to bring state funding to North Myrtle Beach to continue the city’s projects to remove stormwater pipes from the beach.
North Myrtle Beach has consolidated several smaller pipes into large-diameter deepwater ocean outfall pipes to improve water quality along the beach.
“In the state budget I was able to secure another $500,000 for the North Myrtle Beach ocean outfall project,” he said.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday for the primary election.
Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or on Twitter @TSN_mprabhu.