It was more than two years ago that Rudy Giuliani and Joe Biden were making stops in Charleston, the first steps on the long road to Nov. 4, 2008. There's much we'll take from this election cycle — mainly pitbulls, plumbers, Greek columns, a "Love Revolution," a diner meltdown, Chuck Norris, snowman pundits, fairy tales, terrorist pals, a well-coiffed clandestine affair, and, potentially, the nation's very first "clean and articulate" president. With all that, it's not surprising that you don't know the difference between a Cannon, a Condon, a Collins, and a Kelecy. The City Paper has broken down all the relevant local races, and we've thrown in our endorsements, too. But don't take our word for it. Check out candidate websites to learn more about their policies and visit our site's election headquarters, including our poll-ready cheat sheet, and vote on Nov. 4!
Cynthia McKinney/ Rosa Clemente (Green)
• Wants a paper trail for election ballots and a more inclusive public campaign financing system.
• Would repeal the Patriot Act, the Secret Evidence Act, the Military Commissions Act, and "other legislation that rolls back ... civil liberties."
• Wants reparations for descendants of slaves, primarily through a "comprehensive federal investment in low-income families and communities."
• Supports improved labor standards and a repeal of a slew of foreign trade agreements, as well as equal pay for equal work.
John McCain/ Sarah Palin (Republican)
• Is a self-professed "maverick" and war hero with more than two decades experience in Washington, D.C.
• Would reduce the corporate tax rate and cut taxes on capital gains. He'd also double the child tax credit.
• Strongly supports offshore drilling, nuclear power, and clean coal technology.
• Would stay in Iraq until we've "won."
Bob Barr/ Wayne A. Root (Libertarian)
• Would limit government spending to necessities to drive down deficit.
• Wants to eliminate restrictions on energy production and federal subsidies for energy alternatives.
• Supports dialing back the federal monitoring of citizens to just what is necessary to protect against terrorism.
• Would reduce military intervention overseas and pull our troops out of Iraq.
Ralph Nader/ Matt Gonzalez (Independent)
• Supports a single-payer health care system similar to Canada.
• Wants to return military spending to reasonable levels by disposing of contracts for equipment the military doesn't need or want.
• Supports a diversified energy policy that abandons subsidies for oil companies and others with a new focus on renewable energy options.
• Advocates a crackdown on corporate criminals through increased prosecution and a ban on government contracts for offenders, among other policies.
Barack Obama/ Joe Biden (Democrat)
• Wants to create a middle-class tax cut and provide incentives for small businesses to hire new workers and establish health care benefits.
• Supports a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq and rebuilding America's reputation abroad.
• Favors a zero-to-five approach to education that focuses on infants and pre-kindergarten with broader reforms of No Child Left Behind.
• Supports an energy economy that can produce five million jobs with a focus on alternative energy.
Chuck Baldwin/ Darrell Castle (Constitution)
• Believes U.S. private and public facilities (roads, churches, homes, buildings) cannot be owned by foreign governments.
• Would impose tariffs on all foreign imports.
• Supports an increase in military spending, with a focus on homeland defense.
• Advocates the immediate deportation of violators of U.S. immigration policy.
We Pick: Barack Obama. We could point to the faults of his opponents, but we're really endorsing Barack Obama for the change he'll bring to Washington. Obama's reasoned approach to ending America's military presence in Iraq is in line with the wishes of the Iraqi leadership and reinforces the civilian control of military operations that is at the heart of the Department of Defense.
Others have suggested the health care industry can fix itself, but Obama has made health care reform a priority. He'll make it easier and, more importantly, affordable for our growing senior population to find health care, and he'll drive premiums down by demanding that often fearless 20-somethings get insurance so that the broader population isn't left paying their medical bills.
His comprehensive education proposals include making college affordable in an innovative way that ensures the next generation won't be burdened with the student loans us Gen Xs will be paying off well after our mid-life crises.
Obama is willing to find a compromise on issues like nuclear energy and oil explorations, but he's got his eyes focused on alternative energies that will be essential in the few short decades when the current off-shore opportunites dry up.
Lindsey Graham (R-incumbent)
• Sees energy independence as a national security issue; would increase incentives for nuclear power and renewable energies.
• Supports continued operations in Iraq.
• Wants a balanced federal budget and an end to wasteful earmark spending.
• Touts a voting record just as conservative as Strom Thurmond.
Bob Conley (D)
• Advocates the elimination of the federal gas tax and federal energy subsidies while lifting restrictions on oil drilling and gas processing.
• Supports exiting Iraq and rebuilding a worn-out, over-burdened National Guard.
• Favors securing national borders, abandoning sanctuary cities, ending citizenship for children of illegals born in U.S., and deputizing local law enforcement in immigration cases.
• Wants to reform trade policies including shoring up lax tariffs and eliminating subsidies for foreign goods.
We Pick: Lindsey Graham. Gosh, it's that last line that just makes this endorsement hard to swallow. But Lindsey Graham is one senator whose rhetoric doesn't match his record — and that's a good thing. Graham has sought compromise in the Senate on some of the most controversial issues, including judicial appointments and, yes, even immigration. Sen. Jim DeMint's spirited rant against earmarks has been commendable, but it has placed South Carolina at a disadvantage with his refusal to play the Washington game. Graham is also opposed to the earmark system, but rightly continues to seek out federal dollars for state projects.
U.S. House, Dist. 1
Henry Brown (R-incumbent)
• Has been an advocate for local military contracts, including vehicles currently operating in war zones.
• Touts efforts to support local infrastructure funding and national veterans benefits.
• Is a longtime supporter of off-shore oil drilling while weighing energy alternatives.
• Supports maintaining the course in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Linda Ketner (D)
• Supports early childhood education, literacy requirements for third graders, and incentives for successful teachers.
• Believes the government should make good on benefits promised to veterans when they enlisted and supports expanding full college benefits to reservists and National Guard members.
• Wants South Carolina to be a leader in alternative energy solutions and advocates giving tax benefits to renewable energy companies.
• Favors rebuilding relationships with foreign allies in an effort to reduce our unilateral intervention overseas and supports a reasoned exit of U.S. troops from Iraq.
We Pick: Linda Ketner. Surprisingly, our endorsement is not a result of the issues Ketner has targeted Brown on in advertising — the acres of national forest he accidentally burned or his number one ranking on Congressional junk mail. The sheer breadth and depth of reasoning by Ketner on a slew of issues is staggering and an indication of the thought she puts into each decision. This thoughtfulness is in sharp contrast with Brown, who introduced a bill authored by developers looking to endanger a natural habitat south of Kiawah Island. Brown later said he didn't realize where the bill was coming from. Ketner has also strongly argued that she would be an independent voice in the Congress. Brown has suggested one member can't change things in Washington. That's either defeatism, laziness, or both, and it shouldn't be rewarded.
U.S. House, Dist. 6
Nancy Harrelson (R)
• Wants to balance the federal budget the way everyday people "balance our checkbooks."
• Is against all earmarks and supports the Fair Tax that replaces most taxes with an increased sales tax.
• Advocates the deportation of unemployed illegal immigrants.
• Wants to drill for oil wherever it's viable, and explore alternatives.
Jim Clyburn (D-incumbent)
• Would reverse disparities in the "Corridor of Shame" on jobs, schools, and health care.
• Is one of the most powerful members of Congress as House Majority Whip.
• Advocates a focus on improving the environment through new energy policies.
We Pick: Jim Clyburn. With the exit of Strom Thurmond and Fritz Hollings over the past few years, there was good reason for South Carolina residents to worry that our political collateral was lost in Washington. But Clyburn's turn in 2006 as a leader in the Democratic Congress has brought renewed attention to S.C., particularly those pockets of the state that need it the most. Clyburn also has recently injected himself in the debate over climate change and comprehensive energy reform, pledging to engage the black community on the issue.
S.C. Senate, Dist. 42
Scotty Sheriff (R)
• Says Ford hasn't been working for the district: "His experience doesn't do us any good if he doesn't use it."
• Proposes tax incentives for emerging small businesses: "You have to get out there and create those opportunities."
• Supports after-school partnerships with area universities.
• Wants improved law enforcement training.
Robert Ford (D-incumbent)
• Leads the charge for offshore energy exploration: "All I know is, if there's oil out there, we want to find it."
• Claims that his seniority after 14 years in the legislature can't be easily replaced.
• Has worked to get more minority judges on the bench.
• Wants to legalize gambling to shore up state coffers.
We Pick: Robert Ford. He's a loudmouth who can incite eye-rolling from faithful Democrats, but Ford is also a civil rights pioneer who has walked his own path in the legislature. At his best, Ford defends civil liberties. Most recently, that has included his support of gay rights like civil unions and employment and housing protections. That said, Ford may be delusional when it comes to energy exploration, particularly in his expectation that taxpayers will reap the benefits of whatever is mined.
S.C. House, Dist. 109
Steven Smith (R)
• Favors social conservatism.
• Has personally supported homeless charities locally and would extend state support to those programs in emergency situations.
• Believes in state funding for associate degrees.
• Wants incentives for green homes, but says government must lead with its own green buildings.
David Mack (D-incumbent)
• Calls himself a "public education purist"; doesn't support charter schools, magnet programs, or school vouchers.
• Says that with 12 years in the legislature and three decades working in the community, his experience is an asset.
• Wants to improve public education to make the state more alluring to new business.
• Supports rural health centers.
We Pick: David Mack. We're not quite the education purists that Mack claims to be, but he understands that there are parents who could care less about their child's education, so all schools have to improve. His support of compromises on issues like energy reform will be tested over the next two years, and District 109 is one area in particular that will be rebuilt or ruined based on the ability of elected officials to bring jobs and industry back to struggling neighborhoods.
S.C. House, Dist. 115
Wallace Scarborough (R-incumbent)
• Says eight years in the legislature helps secure state aid for local needs.
• Has been endorsed by the Conservation Voters of South Carolina as a result of his work on issues like beach renourishment and opposition to bridges to small islands.
• Proposes funding schools on a per-student basis, letting the money follow students if they transfer.
• Wants Medicaid reforms by offering tax incentives to get people to voluntarily leave the state program.
Anne Peterson Hutto (D)
• Says that accessibility will be a top priority: "People want to be able to talk to their representative."
• Wants to address teacher pay and discipline concerns while improving quality for parents.
• Supports increased funding for highways, bike lanes, and walking trails, as well as improving mass transit.
• Opposes across-the-board spending cuts: "We're going to have to make sure we keep our eye on our priorities."
We Pick: Anne Peterson Hutto. Two years ago, we grudgingly endorsed Scarborough's opponent. We're sad to say that we're doing so again. Peterson Hutto has shown a true grasp of the issues most important to District 115 voters — mainly roads, eduction, and the environment — and she'll go to Columbia focused on improving the district. Unfortunately, her campaign has spent precious time pointing to old scandals in Scarborough's past, and not toward the region's future.
S.C. House, Dist. 117
Chris Cannon (R)
• Considers himself a moderate: "ultra" fiscally conservative, more liberal on social issues.
• Is an advocate of Gov. Mark Sanford's initiatives on earmarks and government restructuring.
• Supports school vouchers or tax credits for private schools and would shift tax burden for schools off people without kids.
• Supports an increase in the state's historically low gas tax once prices decrease and says state should lead in nuclear research.
Leon Stavrinakis (D-incumbent)
• Continues to press for changes in the state education funding that would put more money in the classroom.
• Calls for an expanded four-year-old kindergarten, possibly paid for with a portion of a cigarette tax increase.
• Says state needs to focus on improving infrastructure and education: "That means sites, that means roads, that means rail, that means a smart, skilled workforce."
• Plans to reintroduce legislation to enhance tax incentives for solar, wind, and other renewable energies and would let companies investing in those technologies purchase their equipment tax free.
We Pick: Leon Stavrinakis. A bridge builder first, Stavrinakis has proven he'll weigh proposals without party-line prejudice. He's supportive of constitutional reforms that would take power from the legislature, and his own hands, because it's the right thing to do. He also understands that the important issues of the day will require compromise, not combativeness.
Charleston County Council, Dist. 3
Mickie Kelecy (R)
• Will seek input from business owners on targeted economic development incentives.
• Favors alternative traffic solutions, focusing on commuter programs like HOV lanes and improved CARTA services.
• Wants to eliminate excess in the county budget to prevent a tax increase while looking at opportunities on revenue growth.
Coakley Hilton (Petition)
• Wants more attention paid to current residents regarding future growth, including community concerns about road widening plans.
• Eyes responsible spending and a line-by-line review of the budget.
• Advocates alternative transportation solutions like telecommuting for applicable county jobs, HOV lanes, and commuter rail.
Elliott Summey (D)
• Will seek out industry input on questions concerning the county's incinerator and landfill, with an eye on neighborhood concerns.
• Plans to focus on efficiencies, consolidation of services, and cheaper, energy-efficient alternatives to address shortfalls.
• Pledges to be constantly accessible for constituents and being accessible and accountable to taxpayers.
We Pick: Elliott Summey. Hilton is an attractive candidate and Kelecy has made commendable strides to prepare for the role. But neither matches Summey's excitement and initiative in diving into the county's issues. As the son of North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, it's understandable that some would be concerned about a collection of power under one roof, but Summey's support for recycling existing waste and incinerator refuse into energy sources suggests he is more than ready to think outside of the box.
Charleston County Council, Dist. 6
Curtis Bostic (R-incumbent)
• Will hold the line on tax increases to draw in new business.
• Wants to carefully weigh infrastructure decisions, especially as it relates to waste disposal and the county's sales tax dollars for road improvements.
• Plans to preserve the greenbelt program he brought to Charleston County that has preserved more than $70 million of property with more than $40 million from private investment.
Vic Rawl (D)
• Will seek out opportunities to reduce county costs in order to avoid a tax increase.
• Wants planning that isolates dense development to specific areas, thus leaving broader swaths of the county undeveloped.
• Would consider multi-county disposal options and new technologies in addressing the county's solid waste problems.
We Pick: Curtis Bostic. If Rawl were running against a real tool, he'd be our man. But Bostic has worked hard to develop County Council's popular preservation program, one of the unquestionably positive results of the county's sales tax program. He's also developed a solid waste management plan for Charleston County, with dramatic decisions on how we dispose of our trash just around the corner. As recent as two weeks ago, Bostic voted against fellow Republican Paul Thurmond on a proposed toll road to Kiawah and Seabrook because of the concerns of Johns Island residents on the impact to their community. Rawl's long service to the community is appealing, but Bostic hasn't given us a reason to bolt.
Charleston County Council, Dist. 7
Mark Peper (R)
• Wants the county to move forward on road projects, including the extension of I-526 and improvements on Johns Island.
• Says homeowner association leaders need to be brought together to share information and resources, especially as it relates to crime.
• Would shift county resources from the jail to the courts so those convicted can move out of the jail faster.
Colleen Condon (D-Incumbent)
• Says sales tax revenue needs to be closely monitored to make sure the money is used on West Ashley priorities like the Glenn McConnell Parkway and Bees Ferry Road.
• Has been seeking out every spare dime in the county budget, including reducing car trips and cutting printing costs.
• Would find compromise on competing planning models, like the land-use and road-management plans that have plotted different paths for Johns Island growth.
We Pick: Colleen Condon. She has worked hard for the district, from addressing the budget to redistributing accommodation tax dollars. She led the establishment of a Green Committee that will provide the leadership the county needs in developing positive environmental policies, particularly in regards to solid waste.
Chas. School Board, North (2 Seats)
• Wants more one-on-one interaction between teachers and students, so that teachers can target each student's needs.
• Would not support district-wide school choice because of transportation and logistic concerns.
• Says delinquency needs to be addressed, holding parents accountable when students don't show up for school.
• Says district has wasted federal aid.
• Touts her "conservative, intelligent approach" that is philosophically in line with board members David Engelman, Arthur Ravenel, and Ray Toler.
• Wants cameras in school hallways and in every classroom: "I'd like to see what is going on in my kids' classroom."
• Sees school consolidations as one answer to district budget shortfalls, particularly by getting rid of bad schools: "We're actually setting students up to fail, and they don't even know it."
• Wants more vocational training and cooperations with businesses, nonprofits, and university students.
• Says the board should be supportive of the superintendent's vision and act like adults: "These kids don't have any role models, and then they see the school board fighting."
We Pick: Mattese Lecque and Chris Collins. Kandrac's suggestion that she'd vote with Ravenel brings up nightmares of the failed "A-Team," a conservative block of candidates that largely turned off voters two years ago. Lecque and Collins have their eyes focused on progress in the public schools.
Chas. School Board, City (1 seat)
Toya Hampton Green
• Supports relocating talented teachers to the struggling classrooms that need them the most.
• Has been a skeptical critic of charter schools, but supports the concept as one choice for parents.
• Is encouraged by the concept of targeted programs at different schools, like a campus focused on foreign language and world studies.
• Wants to see equitable programs at all district schools, particularly at schools that have fallen behind downtown.
• Supports charter schools as an alternative after years of failed progress at traditional schools.
• Would seek out opportunities to get parents involved in their child's education: "That's where schools succeed and where others don't."
We Pick: Toya Hampton Green. Stewart has been a tireless advocate for downtown public schools, so it makes this endorsement one of the most difficult. While Hampton Green has not taken a leadership role on the school board, she has often provided a cool head in the face of typical rhetoric. A reasoned, thought-out approach to solving the district's problems will be a necessity in the next few years.chas. SCHOOL BOARD, W. ashley (2 SEATS)
John Graham Altman
• Wants to remove troublemakers from classrooms in order to aid academic progress: "You throw the thugs out."
• Advocates reinstating promotion standards so students aren't passed on to higher grades unprepared.
• Considers charter schools a life boat for parents troubled by traditional public schools.
• Calls district budget warnings an overreaction and says that shortfalls are self-inflicted: When times are tough, he says, "You don't sell your house. You tighten your belt."
• Says charter schools put parents in charge and avoid district bureaucracy; he would also support "almost every option you can imagine" regarding school choice.
• Considers early reading comprehension essential, but says that older students should also be prepared for the workforce after graduation.
• Says the district's budget problems have been made worse by a lack of leadership on the board in calling for state reforms.
• Supports charter schools, but wants to even out school budgets countywide to make traditional schools more competitive.
• Wants more business and community involvement and more partnerships with other local governments on issues like sharing facilities.
• Says consolidations are important, but the district will have to prove its worth: "When the dust settles, people have to see a value in it."
• Supports charter schools, but wants to make every school a success: "Not every parent is going to be able to benefit from countywide choice."
• Would spotlight and emulate success in the district: "We tend to paint the district with a sad, broad brush."
We Pick: Chris Fraser and Ann Oplinger. Both candidates have proven their desire to thoughtfully address the demands of parents looking for challenging curriculum and the need to preserve public schools for the students who still need it. The success of particular charter schools and the excitement that new charters have brought to public education, particularly on the peninsula, is contagious. But past lessons have shown these programs need a critical eye from the school board.
The Amendments (abbreviated)
Question 1: Hannah Montana can afford to wait
• Must the Constitution of this State be amended to delete the provision that no unmarried woman shall legally consent to sexual intercourse under 14 years?Translation: The legislature is looking to make the legal age for women to consent to sex 16, 18, or until they have the good sense not to name a child after Troy Bolton or their favorite Jonas Brother.
Questions 2&3: Investing in Stocks — Seriously
• Must the Constitution of this State be amended so as to provide that the funds of any trust fund established to fund post-employment benefits for state employees, public school teachers, and political subdivisions of the state may be invested in equity securities subject to limitations on such investments?Translation: "Post-employment benefits" are primarily health insurance for retirees. "Equity securities" are stocks. We'd ask our broker for advice on this one, but he keeps nagging us about a reference letter for his new job at American Eagle.
The Other Races
Senate Dist. 38 (Charleston/Dorchester)
• Mike Rose (R)
• Bill Collins (Petition)
Dist. 98 (Charleston/Dorchester)
• Annette D. Young (R)
• Jeff Young (D)
Dist. 108 (Charleston/Georgetown)
• Jill Kelso (R)
• Vida Miller (D)
• Rae H. Wooten (R)
• Henry A. Middleton (D)
James Island Public Service District (3 seats to fill)
• Sandi Engelman
• Nancy Griffth
• James A. Mlligan
• Eugene Platt
• Charles Rhodes
• Shirley Rush
• June Waring
• Eugene Woodall