I applaud The Sumter Item for publishing its story on Nov. 12 on the public records of Calvin Hastie and David Merchant. Making facts about candidates known to voters is always better, and it is the obligation of the free press in our country to do so.
Based on The Sumter Item's story, I have questions about each of the two candidates that voters should ponder when deciding which candidate to support. Would Calvin Hastie's claim that his primary residence for property tax purposes was in Hopkins have disqualified him as a member of Sumter City Council had a complaint been made at the time, and is that relevant for his run for mayor now? What are the property tax implications of David Merchant changing his first request of rezoning agricultural land used by Merchant Iron Works to industrial status (instead he changed this approach and sought County Council's amendment of the Zoning Ordinance to add a special exception for agricultural land that is used for metal fabrication)? Does metal fabrication on land zoned "agricultural conservation" make sense?
On the current public record, there is no way to know the answers to these questions, but it may be useful for voters to ask themselves these questions when deciding which candidate to support. I only wish the Item would have published this type of story earlier for all the candidates running for mayor.
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