On Nov. 3, Greenville residents get the chance to vote for County Council members. There are five districts up for grabs. Here’s what the candidates facing contested races had to say about themselves at the Greenville County Council Candidate Forum held on Oct. 7.
Steven Shaw, Republican
My background is urban and regional planning. I’m currently an attorney. I moved here from Florida and married my wife, who together with her mother own the successful franchise Wild Birds Unlimited. I think small business pulls the wagon of our economy. I try to live by that small-business work ethic, which comes from knowing that if you don’t perform, you might not have a job tomorrow. Faith is strong to me, as a believer in Christian values, and I’m also the author of the South Carolina Gun Law Book. The Second Amendment protects what is perhaps our most basic civil right — in a way, it’s the real First Amendment.
Farris Steele Johnson, Democrat
I’m a development manager of the nonprofit Loaves and Fishes. I graduated from Clemson, where I studied philosophy and religion. I never intended to run for political office, but I found myself inspired to run in the wake of what transpired earlier this year surrounding the anti-LGBT ordinance. I really think County Council could use some more presentation and a diverse group up there. I’m excited to represent all the people, not just people who look like me or love like me.
Stan Tzouvelekas, Republican
I’m a native Greenvillian, been here since 1962, and my family came here in the 1930s. I owe everything to Greenville County, and with it being my home and the place I love, I wanted to be part of Greenville in a more active role. I want to make sure the Greenville of the future looks a lot like the Greenville of the past. The whole world is moving here, it seems sometimes. So I want to make Greenville one of the best places in the world to live, and my experience and my real estate background match up with where we’re going in the community with growth and how the area will develop down the line.
Samantha Wallace, Democrat
I have lived in the Upstate for more than two decades with my husband, a textile man, and our twin sons, both of whom are recent high school graduates. We raised our children up through Greenville County Schools. I’ve always been a businesswoman and community leader wherever I’ve landed. I’m the co-founder of Edible Upcountry Magazine, a publication that’s celebrated our local food culture. I reimagined with some wonderful partners the old family courthouse downtown as a vibrant literary hub, M. Judson Booksellers. Fundamentally, I’m a builder of things. I like to create positive change, and I don’t shy away from rolling up my sleeves and making the work happen.
Liz Seman, Republican
On top of being a current member of County Council, I’m a chief of staff at Furman University. I’ve spent my career in the nonprofit sector, and the reason I’m running again goes back to the reason I originally ran, which is a strong belief in everybody’s ability to serve. Now more than ever I’m running because my nonprofit experience brings a unique perspective to the table, especially during the pandemic, and I understand the link between the economic health of our community and the physical health of our community. I want to continue to see the community grow in both of these ways.
Amanda McDougald Scott, Democrat
I have spent my entire career working in nonprofits, and I have been doing the work of collaboration among stakeholders for different sectors in the community who often feel left out of the room where decisions are being made. I’ve seen mothers who’ve been evicted from their homes due to the fact that they didn’t have quality, accessible childcare. Voters feel that the only time anybody cares about what they say or think is around the election year, and so I’ve been taking very good notes and am ready to take action when I win this election. I am running to be the change, and I am going to continue my work with the residents of Greenville County.
Candidates Ben Carper and Ennis Fant of District 25 did not participate in this public forum.
Ben Carper, Republican
Ennis Fant, Democrat
Butch Kirven, Republican
When I first ran for County Council in 2004 I had just retired from the Army National Guard in a year of active duty after 9/11. I was minding my own business, getting reestablished in the Simpsonville area. An election was coming up for County Council that spring, and I was actually recruited to be a candidate. Initially I was pretty cool to the idea, while my wife was downright cold to it, but she came around. We decided to run, and lo and behold, I got elected. But the real reason I did run was because the ideal of service is ingrained in my psyche. I have a passion for serving and trying to help people, whether individuals or families. The core value of the Army is selfless service, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to try and give back to my community.
Will Morin, Democrat
In prior life I worked in sports medicine in professional sports and college. I was an EMT for 20 years, so I’ve been around the roads, experienced life in different cultures. I’ve lived in seven different states. Later, in my Master’s of Public Administration from Clemson, they educated me on the process and methods on how government is supposed to work — for the people and not just big land developers who’ve turned out for Mr. Kirven’s campaign. I’m about extreme transparency, the opposite of what my opponent goes for. I value openness and transparency and the opinion of others. The COVID-19 crisis, of which I am one of the 15,000 people that have been infected in Greenville County, has shown the lack of leadership in County Council, how they have failed us, and it’s time for drastic change of county leadership.