On Tuesday, voters will decide the Republican nominee for South Carolina House District 56.
The special election is being held to replace Republican Mike Ryhal, who resigned this year. A runoff election is scheduled for Nov. 7 if no candidate gets a majority and the special election is on Jan. 2, 2018.
The candidates for the special election are Tim McGinnis, owner of the Famous Toastery and former news anchor at WPDE; Dr. Dwyer Scott, a business owner and chiropractor; and Adam Miller, a college student who lives in Longs.
Cannabis legalization, beach parking, infrastructure and TV advertising were all topics of discussion during Wednesday's District 56 debate hosted by Carolina Forest High School government students.
The student moderators asked the debate questions. Answers have been edited for brevity and relevance to the question asked.
What’s your opinion on the future of Carolina Forest and why? Options include staying unincorporated, a special tax district, annexation, or incorporation.
Scott: In favor of staying unincorporated for now.
“Carolina Forest has the potential to do anything. We actually have the potential and the power as we continue to grow to do any option that we want. Considering the situation and the things we need to gain that we deserve first before moving forward, I think [staying unincorporated is] the smartest bet.”
Miller: In favor of a referendum, and in favor of incorporation.
“One thing I have ran this entire campaign on is to give the people of Carolina Forest a decision. Give them a referendum so that they can decide if they want to become incorporated. I think they should and I think if given the decision, they would.”
McGinnis: In favor of staying unincorporated for now.
“I think if we did it right now, it would fall on the backs of the people who live in Carolina Forest to pay for it. It’s something that we can’t afford, just setting up the infrastructure, the cost of it would be too astronomical without having industry here as a tax base. If we eventually, years down the road, have enough businesses here, it’s something we can consider.”
Do you have a plan to solve the problem of parking at the beach?
(A bill introduced in the state legislature mandates that the general assembly approve any parking restrictions a city might enforce for non-residents but not residents.)
Miller: Supports state legislation to open up beach parking.
“I might pre-file my own bill.”
McGinnis: In favor of working with the City of Myrtle Beach, and doesn’t support legislation.
“I don’t believe the state has business telling the municipalities what laws they can and can’t make without very, very, very careful consideration. I will bring groups together to talk about this, and we will come up with a solution that’s fair and equitable. We need free parking at the beach, and we need to work it out with the city, and we need to do it sooner than later.”
Scott: In favor of talks with the city and legislation.
“The amount of money that our population is sending to the state and the state is sending back to the City of Myrtle Beach is astronomical, and we deserve to have access to those beaches. If you elect me, I’m going to do everything I can to go for that beach access so we can get what we deserve and more. We’re going to support that bill.”
Do you see a need to increase the minimum wage?
Scott: In favor of an increase.
“We have a lot of great schools here. Unfortunately, a lot of those students and a lot of those graduates aren’t sticking around for jobs and staying part of this community. And the reason why is the low wages. Also, we have law enforcement issues. We don’t need to make this a training facility and university town. We need to grow and develop and keep our people here, and we have to make it attractive to them.”
Miller: Against an increase.
“I will not go far as to say that we should raise the minimum wage. What I would go as far as to say is that the state should better be providing to our educational systems both at the public and … our higher education institutions to provide for them the betterment of the student through a more professional lifestyle.”
McGinnis: Against an increase.
“If you own a small business in this area and you post a job to pay somebody $7.25 an hour, good luck. You’re not going to get somebody to come in and work for you. Government does not need to come in and tell businesses what they have to pay people. The market will set itself. I absolutely would not entertain raising the minimum wage.”
What new infrastructure, besides Highway 501 and Carolina Forest Boulevard, would you try to bring to District 56, and what affect would it have on the area?
Scott: Wants to extend Postal Way and complete I-73.
“We need to create the infrastructure including ideas like extending Postal Way and allowing our roads to inter-connect. Focusing on the RIDE issues, making sure they’re properly funded is very important. At the same time utilizing some of those funds to entertain the idea and move through the idea of I-73.” (RIDE stands for Ride Improvement and Development Effort. In 2016, voters approved RIDE III, which uses a penny sales tax to fund road improvement projects.)
Miller: Likes Highway 501.
“[Highway] 501 is a big one. I had the pleasure to meet with David DeCenzo, who is the president of Coastal Carolina University. He even stated to me, it is just shocking to see the difference between 501 now, and 501 10 years ago. And I think it’s very evidential [when] you are driving down that, just how the Carolina Forest area has grown.”
McGinnis: Wants I-73, and wants it to be a toll road.
“We need that to happen much quicker than it is. I would push for that to be a toll road so we can start getting the ball rolling to make that happen. I’d like to see more roads behind the subdivisions. Yes, we’re a donor county. Yes, we have a lot more people riding on our roads than most other counties. But we have to go up against many other legislators, most of them who don’t live in donor counties, who want to get our chunk of the change. We need to build relationships in Columbia to make that change.”
(I-73, if built, would run between I-95 and Myrtle Beach.)
Poor education has a negative effect on the economy. Would you support raising teacher salaries and a change to Act 388 to increase school funding, even if it means raising taxes?
Scott: In favor of raising teacher salaries and repealing Act 388.
“I feel like teachers should be some of the most paid professional that we have because of the influence they have on our children. As far as education goes and Act 388 of 2006, one of the first things I would propose if you let me, is to go in and repeal that act that would allow our school board, and allow our county council, to start taking control of some of the funds that we have here.” (ACT 388 exempts owner-occupied homes from paying property taxes used for school districts’ operations budgets.)
McGinnis: In favor of more money for teachers, and using accommodations and property taxes to pay for it.
“When businesses think about locating here, they’re not going to think about coming here if they hear about the reputation for South Carolina schools. We need good schools, we need to pay teachers well, we need to look at the way taxes are allocated.”
Miller: In favor of raising teacher pay
“I personally would not be standing here if wasn’t for very dedicated teachers, very dedicated principals and very dedicated coaches. Because they are so important to our community, our state and our nation, I want to see ways to increase their pay.”
Are you in favor of legalized cannabis, either recreationally or medicinally?
McGinnis: In favor of medical cannabis.
“I think we need to give physicians the power to prescribe. If they wish to prescribe, that’s their purview. It needs to be regulated by physicians, medical doctors, medical associations. As far as recreational marijuana goes, it’s way too soon to say whether that’s a good road to go down or not. Several states have already legalized it, we need to watch them.”
Scott: In favor of medical marijuana.
“Being a doctor, I see a lot of people suffer. I see a lot children suffer. And I don’t think it’s any of our right or the government’s right to restrict something, especially that’s natural, more natural than a lot of these dangerous medications that are being provided though pharmaceutical companies. As far as recreational marijuana, I can’t see anything great coming out of that. It’s something that we can pay attention to. It doesn’t look like prohibition has worked in the past.”
Miller: Against recreational and medical marijuana.
“My father was, and still is, an alcoholic. I’m a big Christian as well. I am not in favor of either one. But if there is a group in District 56 that’s for it, I encourage you to work on my heart and show me evidence to the contrary.”
Do you feel Gov. Henry McMaster’s bill creating a database of doctors prescribing opioids and patients who take them is enough to solve the opioid problem?
Scott: It’s being addressed.
“The opioid epidemic is a national epidemic. The issue is being addressed. It’s going to get worse. Phillip Thompson, the [Horry County] sheriff, and a lot of other elected and appointed officials, they have a grip on what needs to happen. It’s a difficult thing to attack. You can’t lock away this problem. Law enforcement, is one, education is No. 2 and treatment is No. 3. With the resources and leadership that we currently have, we’re going to be able to tackle this and we’re going to take care of it before it gets too bad.”
McGinnis: In favor of restricting drug lobbying, and in favor of Narcan and counseling.
“We have a problem and a lot of it stems from lobbyists in Washington who are pushing their way to make sure the over-prescription of opioids can continue. We need to make sure that our law enforcement officers have an adequate supply of Narcan so they can resuscitate these people. But we need to, as a community, look at ourselves and see what we can do to rehabilitate the people who are addicted. Peer-to-peer counseling is something that really works. We can’t legislate our way out of it.”
Miller: Wants to help individuals who realize they have a problem with addiction.
“I’m very proud of McMaster. This is something that hits close to home with me. This is something that I refuse to say that it doesn’t start with anybody but the individual first. The person needs to come to a realization that they have a problem. Once that realization is met by them, I agree with Mr. McGinnis that it’s a communal effort and we should be rounding around this person. We should be allocating state funds to make sure that they are able to get the help that they so desperately deserve.”
(Horry County leads the state in opioid deaths.)
The Republican primary election is Oct. 24. If no candidate gets a majority, a primary runoff election will happen on Nov. 7. The special election takes place on Jan. 2, 2018.