LETTER: Merchant is a leader and problem solver who wants to serve his community

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 David Pate Merchant, Senior was born the spring of 1975.  His birth mother made the excruciatingly brave decision to put him up for adoption, and he lived in foster care for the first month of his life.   Wyman and Jackie Merchant joyfully adopted their baby boy through the state of South Carolina that same summer.  David was raised in a Christian home and attended the public schools in Columbia, SC.  Wyman, a proud member of the South Carolina Air National Guard and loyal employee of AT&T, and Jackie, a public school teacher for 34 years, taught David to live life to the fullest, never shy away from hard work, and always lend a helping hand. As a child, David had a variety of interests.   He enjoyed little league sports, hunting and fishing. This led to his love for scouting, and as a teenager, he completed the arduous task of becoming an Eagle Scout.  As a young man, his first job was as a custodian at his childhood elementary school. He loved to work on his grandfather’s farm and play Rugby.  In 1993, David graduated from high school and headed to Clemson University to further his education.

 Fast forward a few years and that is where I come into the picture!  We met at Clemson, and what struck me first about David was his caring and gentle spirit, his grit, determination, and unwavering loyalty to friends and family.  “Merchant” as his teammates would call him, is a leader by nature.  A thinker and a problem solver, he is the hardest worker in the crowd and always passes the credit off to others.  He believes in “growing” people and building up other leaders.  He emulates many unique qualities I revered in my own father and brothers, and we married in the winter of 1998.  A short move to Georgia took us away from Sumter for a year.  On a wing and a prayer, we moved back in 2001, with the hope of starting our own business.  Sumter has always been our home and we moved back on purpose.  We could not think of a finer community to live in and raise our family.  

The last twenty years have been an amazing journey.  David started his welding business with a truck and a trailer in our driveway.  I was the painter, and together we worked to start Merchant Iron Works.  We had many ups and downs but with the support of a community who inspired us, and mentors who faithfully encouraged us, his childhood dream became a reality.  Currently, Merchant Iron Works employs approximately 50 talented individuals whom we consider family. Also, I would be remiss if I did not mention our four beautiful children who bless us, sharpen us, and constantly keep us on our toes!

            Currently, David serves on the Sumter City Council as the representative for Ward 6.  He has been a devoted City Councilman for the last eight years, and his time and experience on our City Council have helped to prepare him for the office of Mayor.   A member of Westminster Church, he has served as a Deacon and a past president of the Men of the Church.  David serves on two Sumter School Improvement Councils and our family business is a community partner with Alice Drive Elementary and Alice Drive Middle Schools.  David has been a loyal participant in the “Real Men Read’ program, My Community and Me, and he has served as “Principal for the Day” at three different Sumter schools over the last three years.  Always a champion for children and community, David sponsors and volunteers as a baseball coach for Sumter County Parks and Recreation and is a faithful supporter of the Sumter Pregnancy Center, Young Life youth ministries, and the Sumter County Disabilities and Special Needs Foundation.  He is also an honorary commander to Shaw Air Force Base and the 79Th Fighter Squadron, The Tigers.  In 2006, David was the recipient of the Sumter Chamber of Commerce’s Small Manufacturer of the Year Award.

David’s belief is that being mayor is not about just one person.  It is about choosing the best leader for our city who can work well with and unite its citizens. This includes someone who sees the beauty in our community and who will be an advocate for all of Sumter. He has the unique quality to be able to see the potential in people, including those who may be looking for a new beginning.

He has never considered himself a politician.  David is a citizen of Sumter, who simply wants to serve his community.  He believes in building up the next generation of leaders to unite, to get involved, and to continue to move our community in a forward direction.  Sumter needs a young and energetic leader to continue its current revitalization and success. David is a visionary who sees Sumter’s future, its growth potential, and the value of working together toward a common goal.

Please join me in voting for our next Mayor of Sumter, David Merchant!

Laurie Merchant

Sumter