The Berkeley County Supervisor’s Republican primary is yet another primary that decides who gets the job for the next four years, as there is no Democrat running. So we rolled up our sleeves and prepared to take a look at these candidates. Immediately we hit a wall. Where is there any intelligent, trustworthy information?
The Charleston Post & Courier provides minimal coverage of the Berkeley County Council; the weekly Berkeley Independent does a better job. Neither of them give readers a clear understanding of the politics roiling in every issue, though. From the minimal information we can find on the internet, it’s clear that the county council is a dysfunctional group. The common man is left scratching his head, wondering what’s going on. Who is aligning with whom? Why do they stand where they stand?
The candidates themselves don’t help the voters much either. Not one of them set up a website where they can lay out their positions for the voters. (Note to candidates: Many free website options exist.) All of them did put up a Facebook page, which can certainly be a good pep-rally addition to a serious website but can’t possibly take the place of one. Did any of them put a copy of their campaign materials online? No. Did any of them clearly outline their positions in one place? No. Sigh.
Clearly, they all think this race is just for insiders. No need to educate the tens of thousands of voters that don’t attend the party meetings or join the Exchange Club. Just have your friends Facebook you. Candidates: This isn’t a race for high school class president.
So in the absence of any decent campaign information, we attended the debate hosted by the local GOP last Friday night, to size the candidates up in person. Here’s our analysis.
Back in October 2008, following his double votes for the bailout, we were clamoring to unseat our congressman Henry Brown, even if it meant voting in a Pelosi puppet for a couple of years. Perhaps she would have listened to the onslaught of calls telling her not to vote for everything from TARP to Puerto Rico statehood. After Brown won and continued to betray his constituents, we had no intention of voting for him again–ever. So when he announced his retirement, we cheered. His entering the supervisor race did nothing to make us believe he had any more concern for our wishes and needs than the day before.
In the debate, however, Brown did have some fairly snappy comebacks to current supervisor Dan Davis’ positions–but on a number of occasions, Brown used the debate to ask questions of the moderator and fellow candidates about issues he hadn’t studied. Here’s a sample, paraphrased but accurate:
“Really? How much does that cost? And you’re required to pay it even if you don’t want to use the new water line? How much was the fee initially? What is it now? Well, I wouldn’t charge them anything to hook up.”
Thank you very much for taking up our time to educate yourself and then reach the same conclusion the audience had entered the room with. When only a few major topics can be covered in an hour-long debate, we were apparently silly to expect all of the candidates to be well-versed in the top issues.
Some of our fellow citizens have done some checking on Brown’s service to Berkeley County, where he lives and claims to hold dear. Out of all the projects Mr. Earmark slipped into bills during his tenure in Washington, DC, guess how many of them were for his beloved home county. One. If he did nothing for us during all those money-grubbing years, why should we believe he’s going to do anything for us now? He claims he wants to bring jobs to Berkeley County. In reality, he just wants to bring his. No thanks.
Then there’s Dan Davis, our hapless chief who’s unable to guide, let alone control, his raucous, mismatched council. A quick internet search of their activities finds the council voting down a change to the water & sewer logo, only to have Davis go ahead and change it, only to have the council vote to change it back.
Water bills provide a monthly reminder of the incredible 30% increase in rates. Then there’s that itsy-bitsy little one-percent increase in sales tax that was supposed to go toward holding down property taxes but is now having nearly a third of it skimmed off the top by the county council. It’s great that the budget is finally being balanced, but it’s happening through broken promises and increased financial burdens on the citizenry.
At the debate, Davis engendered no confidence that he can get the mob reined in. In fact, his opening comments began with “Woe is me.” Those weren’t his exact words, but that’s the sound they made. Don’t ask for votes by bemoaning your rotten luck to be elected at the start of a recession. Who are you trying to be? Obama?
We attended the debate with an open mind, willing to hear Davis out, correct our belief that he couldn’t handle the job. Unfortunately, he only confirmed our suspicions. Poor Dan, we’re sure he did come in with the best intentions, but even he seemed resigned to the fact he couldn’t please the audience.
That leaves us, solely by process of elimination, with Minnie Blackwell, science teacher and current Hanahan mayor–an education Ph.D. that has a Facebook page rife with misspelled updates. [Ed. Note: We’re aware that this complaint will probably bite us in the butt soon, as we’ll no doubt publish some grammatical or spelling error in this very editorial. But come on: hard “econinical” times, in all caps? Let’s have a contest and see if anyone can find one–just one–Minnie posting that has no errors in it.] A Supervisor Minnie will have to be barred from writing, scribbling, typing, emailing, facebooking, tweeting, etc. any document on her own to prevent bringing shame upon her public.
There must be some positives about Blackwell, though, if we’re going to endorse her, shouldn’t there? Hmmm. We can say that Hanahan survived a real estate boom and bust under her tenure. As she pointed out in the debate, the town also finally got its own zip code (something Brown tried to take credit for as well).
At the debate, she got off to a rocky start with us–going rather new-agey/woman-y on us with an abstract monologue on “servant-leadership” for her opening remarks. When she wasn’t flipping through her giant briefing book with plastic-protected pages and scribbling notes from it, she was cozying up to “Henry,” cooing about how many times they’d talked in the past few years. [It suddenly dawned on us why the Hanahan section of North Rhett got preposterously renamed/christened as the Henry E. Brown Jr. Boulevard.] Blackwell obviously loves to network. She even gave a shout out to Andre Bauer, who she said she’d seen at the back of the room a moment ago.
Perhaps Blackwell can make all her shmoozing work for the county. We’ve got our fingers crossed, but in all likelihood, we’ll end up changing every highway, street and alley name to pay off every two-bit politician in the country.
And so, the Charleston Reader reluctantly, half-heartedly endorses Minnie Blackwell for Berkeley County Supervisor. She’s all we’ve got. Please keep us in your prayers.