Candidate Profile: Chris Sullivan, House District 77
Sullivan, if he beats incumbent Joe McEachern, could become the youngest-serving member in the General Assembly.
With no Republican opposition to face in November, the winner of the House District 77 Democratic primary on Tuesday will likely assume the office.
The race pits incumbent Joe McEachern against upstart politician Chris Sullivan, who at 21 would become the General Assembly's youngest member.
District 77 largely covers the North Columbia area, including much of Blythewood, parts of Spring Valley, the Providence Hospital Northeast area, and surrounding low-income urban developments.
Name: Chris Sullivan
Occupation: Resigned from the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce to run for office.
Prior experience (political/civil/etc):
Youngest recipient of the Mayor’s Key to the City (Columbia, SC)DECA Golden Award of Excellence (International Conference)Represented South Carolina at the White House to meet with President Barack Obama’s administration (to discuss ways to create new jobs.)
Past Vice President, African American Male Leadership Institute Board member, Dutch Fork High School, School of Business & Technology Immediate past councilmember, St. Martin de Porres Catholic Parish National Spokesperson, B.C.F (Building Communities & Families) Judge, South Carolina DECA Past Board member, Midlands Technical College S.A. Board Member, Knights of Columbus Board member, Knights of Peter Claver Member, Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce Past Member, Goodbye Minimally Adequate Steering Committee Member, National Association for the Advancement of Color People Member, Columbia Council of Neighborhoods Member, Richland County Neighborhoods Council Past Participant, Columbia Urban League Past Participant, City of Columbia Lunch Buddy Program, Graduate, Richland 101 Program
Education: Midlands Technical College
Campaign website: www.sullivanforstatehouse.com
Why are you seeking this office?
Our community/state has not been receiving the proper representation in the South Carolina State House by Rep. McEachern. Rep. Mc Eachern has voted against “jobs," our constitutional rights, and has failed to pass any measures dealing with jobs, education, affordable Housing and healthcare. If elected, I will work hard to do the completed opposite of Rep. McEachern; instead I will fight to recruit jobs (that will stay), protect our constitutional rights, work to pass legislation to improve our broken public education system, affordable housing, comprehensive tax reform and improve our outdated healthcare system.
What makes you the best person for the job?
There is no secret that I am young and I running against an experienced politician, but the question I ask voters to ask themselves is the following: Has Rep. Mc Eachern been able to keep up and adapt to the ever changing environment of our community and address our needs, or has he been resting on his laurels? I am an independent thinker and not owned by special interests, which is an advantage for us. I will use my youth and energy along with fresh/positive ideas in the General Assembly to help bring a new perspective to South Carolina politics, where it is no longer about black/white, young/old, Republican/Democrat, male/female, rich/poor, but more so about “we the people” having opportunities, jobs (that stay in SC) and a bright “future."
What areas of the office will you seek to focus on and what do you hope to accomplish in your term?
I hope to accomplish in my first term the same thing I hope to accomplish in my next term (if re-elected by the people), to be an “effective” legislator by staying true to my principles and the people. If elected by the people, my first priority is to work hard to reform our “broken” education system. Right now, our state’s “broken” education system is operating off of a constitution from the late 1800’s. It is outdated and needs some serious changes. Unlike my opponent (who accepted over $14,000 from pro voucher supporters from out of state), our campaign refuses to accept any money from pro voucher groups & title loan companies. Make no mistake I am for public, private and parochial education but I am not for allowing special interest to be able to make campaign contributions to influence an elected official.
Have you heard any repeated concerns from residents of District 77?
Not being represented in the state house, education, and jobs are the concerns that I hear time after time.
What do you think needs to be done to improve South Carolina’s education system?
I strongly believe we need to make sure the dollars are getting into the classrooms. We need to increase teacher’s salaries; teachers are the foundation our education system. We need to create a well-skilled and well-trained work force, so our students can be prepared to go to a two/four year college, military or technical school. We need to increase funding from Pre-K to 12th grade, with a strong emphasis on reading (funding would come from comprehensive tax reform). We need to increase parent involvement; one proposal I have is to introduce a measure that would allow parents to take off from work (allowing employer to reschedule hours) to attend school-related meetings. We need to change the way funding is distributed from our lottery system. They call it the South Carolina Education Lottery, but the Education system receives less than 30 percent of the money.
What do you think about South Carolina’s job creation strategy and what do you think should be done to bring more jobs to the state and improve our economy?
Working at the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce helped me to understand the importance of recruiting businesses to bring jobs and the positive effects it has on our economy. South Carolina has not been able to recruit businesses because we lack a “well skilled and well trained” workforce. I have a proposal which can be viewed on our campaign’s website called the “Three option with NO option to “dropout” that I strongly believe is the best solution for fixing this problem. As a member of the S.C. General Assembly, I will work my hardest to make the state of South Carolina one of the most business competitive states in the country by expanding our ports, improving our infrastructure, comprehensive tax reform, grow new industries and support SMALL businesses. I think small businesses that want to expand should also have the option to receive support from the state. Small businesses are the backbone of our communities. Communities make cities, cities make a state.
Gov. Nikki Haley is fond of giving out grades to lawmakers. How would you assess her job so far in her first term as governor?
My opponent received a “C,” the same grade as the Republican Senate Pro-Tem John Courson of Richland County. I am not sure what I would score, as long as I know I worked my hardest for the people of our state.
Are there any other comments you'd like to make, or would like to discuss something not raised in our questions?
That I will be for the people and that is a “promise!”
Editor's Note: As of this posting, incumbent Joe McEachern had not yet returned his questionnaire to Spring Valley Patch. It will be posted upon receipt.