Election 2020 -- Candidate Q&A: State Senate District 29


This year's primary race for the District 29 seat in the state Senate features two people: Republicans J.D. Chaplin and Ronald Reese Page.

District 29 in the state Senate covers much of Darlington, Lee and Marlboro counties and some of Chesterfield County. All registered voters who live in District 29 can vote.

The winner of this Republican primary will face incumbent state Sen. Gerald Malloy, a Democrat from Hartsville who has served in the position since 2002.

Statewide partisan primaries will be held June 9. Gov. Henry McMaster has said he does not plan to postpone voting because of COVID-19.

Any registered voter can vote in the primaries. South Carolina does not require voters to declare a party, so voters can choose any party's primary to vote in, but you can only vote in one.

Keep following The Sumter Item in print and online at www.TheItem.com/election2020 for all our coverage of local candidates.



Why are you running? I want to bring respect for the people back to this office.

Have you run for political office before? In 2012 for state House of Representatives District 62

How long have you lived in the district? Hartsville for 13 years, Darlington for 22

Current job/profession: Full-time first responder and part-time firearms salesman

What experience do you have that makes you best fit for the seat? I've worked in business management, education (substitute teacher), sales, the firearms industry, the auto industry, and I currently serve protecting life, property and stabilizing incidents as a first responder in the City of Darlington. I am able to relate with diverse groups of people, and I believe heavily in the importance of teamwork and the solving of problems rather than the seeking of credit.

What challenges/concerns do you see in your district/community, and how do you intend to improve them? Education, employment and infrastructure. We need to stop demonizing trade schools when the reality is they prepare students for readily available, well-paying jobs in less time and with less debt than many four-year schools. Skilled jobs are waiting to be filled while infrastructure suffers and unemployment rises. Regardless of my committee assignments, I will work with Senate committee chairmen and their committee teammates to solve these issues.

If changes necessitate funding, how would you want to move funding around or make it possible? I would work with Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Leatherman Sr. and his teammates on that committee to see what could be done regarding funding. It is my personal goal to generate revenue with incentives and job creation rather than penalties, fees or taxes, but funding projects is the responsibility of the Finance Committee, so I would begin there.

What success have you seen that you want to continue/build on? Lowering the recidivism rate by working with corrections and educators to improve programs that give inmates needed skills to create opportunity for those who are at most risk to re-offend, thereby saving tax dollars and generating tax revenue.

What is your vision for your district? Educated, employed and open for business.

Are you actively involved in the community? I've been in the fire service nearly four years, I help with fire prevention education in the schools, and I am a member of the D.C. chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.

Why should people vote for you? I'm a team player who cares more about the outcome than credit.

Anything else about yourself you want to add? I got involved in S.C. politics in 1997 shadowing any House or Senate members who would allow me to come along and learn from them. I graduated from Wofford College with a BA in political science in 2008. In 2010, I became a Republican third-vice chair and was chairman of Rep. Mick Mulvaney's victory campaign for Darlington County. In 2012, I ran for the state House District 62 seat and helped with Tom Rice's congressional campaign. I am very grateful Congressman Tom Rice allowed me to intern for him in Washington, D.C.



Why are you running? I'm running because I'm sick of all of the corruption in our state. Year after year, it goes on and on. Our leaders are more interested in helping themselves than helping us. They're more interested in lining their pockets than paving our roads.

How long have you lived in the district? I've lived in Hartsville my entire life.

Current job/profession: I'm a row crop farmer whose family has worked our land for 85 years.

What experience do you have that makes you best fit for the seat? As a farmer, I know how challenging and difficult it is to run a successful small business, especially these days. I've struggled to make payroll at the end of the week. Like many of you, I've suffered the ramifications of policies mandated by Columbia that wound up doing more harm than good.

What challenges/concerns do you see in your district/community, and how do you intend to improve them? As your next state senator, my main focus will be on our public education system and local infrastructure. An important first step in improving education would be allowing parents to choose which school their child attends (public, private or charter), with the money following the student. A ZIP code should never determine a child's future. Education is the key to breaking the poverty cycle, and we can't do that with the barely adequate education standards Columbia requires.

If changes necessitate funding, how would you want to move funding around or make it possible? As for our infrastructure, we need a senator who will fight for our home area. Someone who can redirect some of the state's money away from the I-26 beltway and into our community. This can be done by reforming the state Infrastructure Bank and by building relationships with the SCDOT Commission. When senators go to commission meetings, their bridges get fixed.

What is your vision for your district? The biggest challenge in our area is the quality of life. Downtown stores and shops are closing; people are moving away. We can overcome this problem by first improving our education and infrastructure. We've got to give people a reason to stay here. We must make this a good place to do business. We have affordable land, easy interstate access and a population that's ready to work. All that's needed is to make our community a place where companies want to build their team. And, we can do it.

Are you actively involved in the community? I'm a member of Black Creek Baptist Church and an assistant Scout Master for Troop 523.

Why should people vote for you? After 20 years of Gerald Malloy's failed leadership in the state Senate, it's time for a change in Lee County.