Fair, Sullivan Differ On Incentive Bill, FOIA
Senate 6 candidates debated at Celebrity's Hot Dogs in Berea.
Two of the three candidates for the District 6 seat in the S.C. Senate took part in a forum Thursday held by the Upstate Young Republicans in a debate that held little in the way of fireworks, though it did yield some moments that separated the two men.
Chris Sullivan, a longtime political consultant, is challenging incumbent Mike Fair for the Senate 6 seat. Tommie Reece, a Furman University employee and Greenville School District board member, was unable to attend the forum.
Sullivan leaned on a folksy, common sense manner of exchange during the debate, while Fair primarily attempted to appeal to the small audience by demonstrating a working knowledge of the current events of the General Assembly, answering many questions by discussion pending legislation.
"If you did an organization chart on the South Carolina government, it would look like a Chinese checkerboard," Sullivan said during an answer on a question about government efficiency.
Sullivan, a Greenville native, quoted Ronald Reagan and John Wayne during the debate, which touched briefly on a wide variety of topics, from taxes, to education to government restructuring, as well as a token question on abortion.
When moderator Jane Kizer asked Fair to weigh the merits of true unfettered laissez-faire capitalism against South Carolina's penchant for offering incentives to enormous companies, Fair said incentives are necessary for recruitment, and cited the pending Bill Wylie Entrepreneurship Act, which he said would offer similar tax breaks for small businesses.
But Sullivan countered by saying the Wylie Bill was unsound.
"It applies to a businesses that need an angel investor. It's basically for start-up companies, where the banks say it's too risky, venture capitalists say it's too risky, and so we say 'well we'll put the taxpayers on the hook for a couple million dollars for start-up money to get it going," Sullivan said.
The two men also differed on the Freedom of Information Act. Sullivan, who calls for more government transparency, railed against the legislative exemption in South Carolina's FOIA law that does not require members of the General Assembly to release their e-mails. Fair said that while he was in general favor if disclosure, he disagreed that such information should be immediately released because he would feel the need get the permission of the other parties involved in the e-mails before he released them.
"You say you're for property rights, but what you mean is you are really just mean some property," Fair said to Sullivan.
Sullivan said he didn't see the release of e-mails as an intrusion of privacy.
"The only thing I'd say about that is that (the standard of getting permission from the citizens sending the e-mails) doesn't apply to anyone else except the legislature," Sullivan said.
Fair said such free and loose disclosure of e-mails would cause a chilling effect on constituent relations.
Fair became distracted multiple times in the debate, seemingly losing sight of his original point as he led the audience through current events going on in the General Assembly. In two instances - once on a question about education and another on a question about sustainable resources - he forgot what the original question was, and had to be reminded.
Look at Patch.com's video coverage for sights and sounds of the night's debate.