Five Republicans and one Democrat want to fill the South Carolina House District 21 seat left vacant by the unexpected death of Rep. Bill Wylie last month.
Real estate broker Steve Dowd, former Greenville County Republican Party Chairman Samuel Harms III, former Greenville County Council Chairwoman Phyllis Henderson, Greer homebuilder Keith Smith and former Bi-Lo Vice President John Symons are seeking the Republican nomination.
Susan Scarborough Smith is the only Democrat to file for the seat.
The primary will be held on Oct. 12.
The general election for the seat will be held on Nov. 2 if no primary run-off election is needed. If there is a run-off, it will be held Oct. 26 and the general election held Dec. 14.
Steve Dowd, a real estate broker and the owner of a Subway restaurant franchise, said he’s frustrated by the way the state is run both financially and politically.
He said he would push for more transparency in state government, including requiring roll call voting by the House, and that he favors changing the tax code for small businesses to encourage more entrepreneurship.
Harms, an attorney who was chairman of the Greenville County Republican Party from 2007 to 2009, said he is focusing his campaign on the importance of fiscal responsibility and reducing spending. He said there’s also a need for tax reform, roll call voting and making South Carolina more business-friendly.
“We need to put Columbia on more than just a diet,” he said. “Columbia needs to go on a fast.”
Henderson, who served one term on the Greenville County Council, said she would fight increased government spending and make government more accountable and transparent.
“Columbia is broken,” she said. “I’ll work to bring common sense accountability and efficiency to government. I’ll work to streamline the over 165 state board and agencies. And I’ll work for comprehensive tax reform with a Constitutional cap on the amount politicians can increase spending each year.”
Keith Smith, owner of a construction company in Greer, is a fiscal conservative who has lived in District 21 his entire life but said there are challenges that must be addressed.
He said he would push for transparency in state government, aggressively push for state’s rights, seek to improve the state’s pro-business climate to encourage economic development and push for improvements in the state’s education system.
As Bi-Lo’s executive vice president of sales and operations, Symons was responsible for more than 40,000 employees and a $4 billion budget. He said the state needs leadership that comes from people with business experience making tough decisions and not just more career politicians.
“We need to be on the path of more work from our leaders and less politics,” he said.
Susan Scarborough Smith, a former television reporter who is now a small business owner in Taylors, said she’s running because she is disappointed in how the legislature has handled public school funding. She also said it’s important to have more women in the state legislature.