Thursday, May 22, 2014
A conservative crowd greeted the three candidates for county supervisor May 22 during a Goose Creek 9-12-sponsored forum at Harbour Lake Baptist Church in Goose Creek.
Former Dorchester County Sheriff and former congressional candidate Ray Nash moderated the forum.
For voters, it was the first chance to see all three candidates share a stage. Questions were fielded from the audience, but candidates seemed unable to sway at least two of the undecided voters in the crowd.
“I’m being a little bit of a tourist. I’m not 100 percent decided just yet,” Eric Kemmerer of Hanahan said. “The forum was pretty informative.”
“I thought some of (the forum) was business as usual and, for some other parts of it, it was very informative,” Connie Evans of Ladson said. Evans is undecided, but she has decided who she will vote against: incumbent Dan Davis.
“I’m tired of business as usual. I’m tired of excuses, and I’m tired of not seeing Berkeley County being progressive,” Evans said.
By applause, it appeared most of Thursday’s audience favored businessman Jerry Beckley. But for Evans, she hasn’t ruled out voting for Moncks Corner Mayor Bill Peagler.
“They both have pros and cons. I like them both. I will just have to keep weighing the issues,” Evans said.
For her, the No. 1 issue facing the county is public safety. And when candidates were asked what the biggest issue facing the county was, Beckley answered public safety.
“When I dial 911 I want someone to come,” Beckley said. “I think we can prioritize better, but it’s going to take some work.”
Davis had a different answer.
“The biggest problem in Berkeley County is — and it’s not only here, it’s everywhere — it’s the economy,” Davis said. But he painted an optimistic picture. “We are poised to burst out of this recession … but we’re still operating in thin times.”
Peagler wanted more transparency on the budget.
“The problem is: show me the money,” Peagler said. “I want a transparent budget where you know what’s going on.”
He said the county is showing problems when it doesn’t have a pay increase for employees, no new law enforcement vehicles, and only one new ambulance for the coming year.
No punches were pulled all evening. In the opening comments, Beckley came out swinging against Davis and Peagler.
“Why vote for me? Because I’m not Dan Davis and I’m not Bill Peagler. I don’t have their obligations … I go to Berkeley County clean. I don’t owe a favor. I don’t owe a friend,” Beckley said.
Beckley later alluded to Davis being among what he called the liberal minority on county council.
Davis called the event an opportunity to “correct mistakes” by his opponents.
“I enjoy coming to these events. The one thing I get to do is correct people’s mistakes,” Davis said.
Davis framed his questions by relying on his record of serving 10 years at the helm of Berkeley County. Peagler focused on his teambuilding efforts, pointing to Moncks Corner as a beacon of success under his leadership. And Beckley admitted that while he may have a learning curve, he was willing to take a look at everything to solve problems in Berkeley County.
Where the candidates agreed was impact fees. All said they need to go. Davis said the early renewal of the one-cent sales tax will allow those to go away. Peagler said one way or another the roads have to be paid for, and agreed that the one-cent sales tax is better than impact fees. And Beckley called the one-cent sales tax a “necessary evil.”