Kevin Eckert- South Carolina US House 5th District
Tell us a little bit about your yourself and your background.
I am originally from Rochester, NY but moved to South Carolina in 2016. I have a background in wildlife conservation and biology, which led me to accepting a job with the USDA Wildlife Services and moving to Sumter in 2017. I started getting active with South Carolina Democratic politics during the 2018 cycle and have served in leadership roles with both the Sumter County Democratic party and the Young Democrats of South Carolina.
My true passions lie in voting rights and the environment. I serve as a poll manager during elections and have led voter registration efforts in Sumter, SC. I have also volunteered with the Conservation Voters of South Carolina and South Carolina Audubon.
I currently live in Sumter with my partner, Cat, a roommate, Rayne, and four cats.
Why are you running for Office?
I am running for office because I believe that the 5th district needs a representative who is willing to listen and work for the people of the whole district. I believe that my working class background can build the coalition needed to win this election along with expanding the Democratic base in South Carolina.
What are the 3 biggest issues facing your community?
The three biggest issues facing my community are 1) a lack of resources for the rural communities, 2) an education system that needs a revamp and proper funding and 3) growing infrastructure problems due to fast growing areas in parts of the district
How do you propose to solve those problems?
1) I would fight to provide more funding to help bring more opportunities to our rural areas. These areas need more money available to upgrade their roads, water systems, and broadband access if more people and job opportunities are going to be brought in.
2) Education is largely a state issue but I believe programs such as offering matching funding to keep money in public schools could help alleviate the issues of budget cuts that a lot of school districts face
3)The district has some of the fastest growing areas in the state and I hear a lot about how basic infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools and roads, are not keeping up with the influx of new residents. The prices for housing have skyrocketed and there is limited availability of new housing. I believe we can offer incentives at the federal level to spur the building of new housing, schools, hospitals and more along with providing the funding to upgrade the roads and bridges as well.
What is your stance on environmental and climate concerns that are facing your community?
Climate change is the top priority for my campaign. As someone who had worked a lot outdoors, I saw how climate change subtly effects everyone. There is a lot of agriculture in the district that will be negatively affected by more unpredictable weather, which impacts our food supply. I stand for the adoption of more renewable energy in South Carolina to reduce our carbon emissions along with conserving more land to help mitigate the effects of climate change.
What common sense gun safety measures would have the most impact on your community?
I believe that expanding background checks and closing loopholes such as the Charleston Loophole and the Boyfriend Loophole. South Carolina ranks high in the country in relation to domestic violence and I feel that these common sense measures will do a lot to make an impact on violence in this state.
How would criminal justice reforms impact your community?
I support the passage of the MORE Act, which would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and expunge related convictions. I am also against cash bail, qualified immunity and civil asset forfeiture. Taking action on these issues will help create a more just criminal justice system where people’s civil liberties will not be abused.
How would you work to protect a woman’s reproductive health?
I believe that Roe v. Wade should be codified and a law legalizing abortion should be made at the federal level. I also believe that access to contraceptives is also very important. But reproductive health encompasses more than that which I why I want to expand access to Medicaid and Medicare along with expanding what those programs cover as well. People deserve access to quality healthcare.
What measures would you advocate for to ensure that your constituents have the right to vote?
I believe that access to the ballot should be expanded and that we need to make it easier for people to vote. The 2020 elections were the most secure in our lifetime and South Carolina proved that having early in-person voting, early absentee voting and ballot drop boxes are secure and effective ways to increase voter participation. I also believe that we should have automatic voter registration when someone turns 18 as well.
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