A few weeks ago, Ed Sutton, a candidate running for a State Representative seat in the district near mine reached out to me and asked if we could chat. He said he was meeting with local “community leaders” and he wanted to talk about issues that needed to be addressed in our area.
For me, this was an opportunity to air my concerns to someone who may soon be in a position to do something about them. For him, it was a chance to see what issues mattered most to his potential constituents.
Once we moved past the small talk, we started discussing climate change. A State Representative may not be able to have as much of an impact on climate change as federal action would, but we talked about the local causes and symptoms like our flooding problems.
Next, we spoke about the upcoming elections and how important it was to give every eligible person the opportunity to vote. We discussed the roadblocks to voting like the transportation, getting time off and the cost of picture IDs.
We talked about gerrymandering and how much that was hurting South Carolina, especially the underrepresented people of color and low income folks. We went on to discuss how important it was for candidates like him to get elected so that Democrats could have a seat at the redistricting table and make sure everyone was represented fairly.
I asked Sutton about healthcare, specifically, how Governor McMaster could do South Carolina citizens such a disservice by not expanding Medicaid in our state. We talked about how people were dying because they couldn’t afford medications or weren’t getting vital diagnostic care to catch devastating diseases early enough to treat them. We agreed that this was unacceptable and that South Carolinians deserve better.
As residents of Charleston, we both felt a strong pull to close the loophole in gun legislation that robbed us of 9 beautiful people at Mother Emanuel Church four years ago. It’s crazy that not even the murder of a SC State Senator, Clementa Pinckney, nor the fact that 80% of Republicans and 83% of Democrats in South Carolina agree that gun reform is needed was enough to spur our current legislators to action. Why? Because the NRA still has far too much power, even in state governments.
We spoke a lot about education. We both agreed that teachers were underpaid and that our current system for funding education was completely failing our children. Sutton had some interesting ideas on how to tackle the problem, and I look forward to seeing his ideas in action.
Then we talked about women. I waited until the end because you just never know how this conversation is going to go. I told him that personally I would never have an abortion, but that I would never presume to make that decision for anyone else. I’ve seen too many women in dire straits to deny them that choice. I told him that to me, it just comes down to minding your own damn business. And Sutton agreed.
The last thing we talked about was domestic violence. South Carolina is 5th in the country for women being murdered by men (usually in a domestic situation). Sutton agreed that we as a state are on the wrong end of many lists, but wasn’t sure what could be done about this issue on a state legislative level. He was surprised to learn that we have only one women’s shelter in our tri-county area. We discussed how difficult and dangerous it is for a woman to leave an abusive relationship, and how that decision is made even more difficult when she has nowhere to go. I suggested that the state could leverage relationships with existing organizations and provide funding to expand their operations in areas where facilities are needed the most.
Ed Sutton treated me with respect and listened carefully to everything I said. He took notes, and he asked questions. I knew by the end of our conversation that I would do what I could to help him get elected, because he really cares about South Carolinians. And that’s what it’s all about.
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