Meeting the South Carolina Candidates Before Election Day

By: Chad Mills Email
By: Chad Mills Email

Every day this week, News 12's Chad Mills will be interviewing the South Carolina candidates to help you make an informed decision at the polls.

To see all of News 12's campaign coverage, click here.

Monday, Oct. 29: House District 81

AIKEN, S.C. -- As Don Wells takes care of customers at the paint shop he's owned in Aiken for 16 years, Jane Vaughters takes a break from work at a local family practitioner's office to invite us over to her house on Hayne Avenue.

"Aiken's been great to us," said Don Wells, who has served for seven years on Aiken City Council.

Vaughters served eight years on City Council.

"I've lived here and raised my children here. We've lived here since 1974," she said.

Vaughters and Wells are the two candidates running for South Carolina House District 81, which includes most of downtown Aiken, south Aiken, Graniteville and a portion of Warrenville. Read more here.

Click here to see the full interview with Don Wells:

Click here to see the full interview with Jane Vaughters:

Tuesday, Oct. 30: Aiken County Sheriff

AIKEN, S.C. -- In Aiken County, there will be only one sheriff candidate on the ballot, but a write-in candidate is fighting for the position, too.

Aiken County Sheriff Michael E. Hunt is a native of this area and lives in Graniteville. He's served in local law enforcement for over 30 years.

Hunt started as a firefighter in Richmond County, became a corrections officer at the Aiken County Detention Center, next a public safety officer at the North Augusta Department of Public Safety, and then, in 1985, an officer at the Aiken Department of Public Safety. In 2003, during a special election, Hunt became Aiken County sheriff.

"You know, I love Aiken County, and I always have. This is my home," Sheriff Hunt said.

His challenger, Jim Vause, was born and raised in Florence. He enlisted in the Army and spent 25 years in the service. He took two tours of combat in both Vietnam and the first Gulf War.

Vause spent 35 years in law enforcement, too. He says he specialized in four areas of police work. He worked at Wackenhut, the security force for Savannah River Site, and now owns a security business.

"Sheriff Hunt needs to know that there's a lot of people in this community that are not happy with his leadership," Vause said. Read more here.

Click here to see the full interview with Sheriff Michael Hunt:

Click here to see the full interview with Jim Vause:

Tuesday, Oct. 30: S.C. Congressional District 2

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Congressman Joe Wilson has served this area in Washington since 2001. He's up for reelection this year too, but he doesn't have a challenger. Wilson represents all of Aiken County, Lexington County, and Barnwell County, with parts of Orangeberg and Richland Counties too.

In a one-on-one interview with News 12, Wilson talks about what issues are facing the country and what Congress will need to do over the next two years. After his comment to President Obama in 2009 that brought national attention, now, Wilson says the administration is not being truthful again in regards to Libya.

Click here to see the full interview with Rep. Joe WIlson:

Wednesday, Oct. 31: House District 86

AIKEN, S.C. -- The race for South Carolina House District 86 is heating up. The district includes two-thirds of Aiken County, including parts of Aiken, Wagener, Couchton, Montmorenci, Salley, Perry, Ridge Spring and New Ellenton.

"When I first ran for office, I said I'd run with a strong voice and an effective leadership. I've done that,” said Republican Rep. Bill Taylor, who is finishing off his first term in the office and is hoping for a second.

"I was approached by a lot of the citizens and voters of District 86, and they were very disappointed with the fact there was no opposition to Bill Taylor,” said David Lobb, who’s vying for the seat as an Independent write-in candidate.

Lobb has an extensive military career, which includes 30 years in the U.S. Army. He is also the current vice president for legislative affairs for the Military Officers Association of America. Lobb also serves on the South Carolina Veterans Advocacy Council.Read more here.

Click here to see the full interview with Rep. Bill Taylor:

Click here to see the full interview with David Lobb:

Thursday, Nov. 1: Aiken County Probate Judge

AIKEN, S.C. -- The race is on for Aiken County Probate Judge, and it's a heated contest -- and some say a dirty contest.

"I don't think anybody ever thought about the probate race until a Republican, for the first time in 24 years, decided to challenge a Democrat,” said Jane Page Thompson, the Republican challenger on the ticket.

Thompson is a realtor in Aiken, but she’s also an outspoken activist who fights for government accountability and her fiscal conservative beliefs.

In this election, she’s facing Democrat incumbent Judge Sue H. Roe.

"I decided early on, that I was not going to allow her to demean my person dignity or the dignity of the Aiken County Probate Court,” Judge Roe said of her challenger. Read more here.

Click here to see the full interview with Judge Sue Roe:

Click here to see the full interview with Jane Page Thompson:

Friday, Nov. 2: Aiken County Confusing Elections, Referendums

AIKEN, S.C. -- Aiken County voting are faced with a few key elections and a referendum that could be confusing to some voters. News 12 is breaking them down.

Aiken County Referendum

The referendum asks, "Should the form of Aiken County's government be changed from that of a Council/Administrator form of government ... to that of a Council/Manager form of government?"

That's the question facing Aiken County voters.

"I could see that being confusing because, you know, a no vote might actually be yes and yes vote might actually be no," said voter Greg Smith, who decided to cast his absentee ballot at the Registration and Elections office Friday afternoon.

In plain speak, here's what the referendum means. A vote of "yes" would make county treasurers and auditors appointed, not elected. A vote of "no" would keep the form of government as it is.

"You know, Aiken County's grown up a lot over the last 50 years, it's time for Aiken County government to grow up as well," said Councilman Scott Singer.

Singer has been a strong supporter of the referendum to make these important positions appointed.

"These offices handle almost half a billion dollars a year, and I can't imagine a company or anybody in the private sector that would leave the important positions of managing and investing that money to chance," he said.

Right now, he says the state only requires a few things if you want to run for treasurer or auditor.

"You'd have to reside in the county in which you are running, and you'd have to have a high school education or eqivalent," said Singer.

However, we asked him if a vote of "yes" would increase the power of the government and scrap the checks and balances currently in place.

"That's poppycock," Singer said. "Right now, you have three offices that are more interested in protecting their turf than doing what's best."

But Aiken County Council Chairman Ronnie Young sees things very differently. He says the system that's in place now is working just fine. He says most other counties in the state, in fact, operate like Aiken County does now. He says he's voting "no" because a "yes" vote would take power away from the voter.

South Carolina Senate District 24

For State Senate District 24, voters will see the name Tom Young two times. One will be listed as a Republican, and the other, a petition candidate.

Young, who is the current State Representative for District 81, says he submitted a petition in case he got kicked off the ballot as a Republican.

Whichever Tom Young you vote for, that vote will go to the same person.

Aiken County Treasurer

Speaking of candidates kicked off the ballot, there are no candidates for treasurer on the Aiken County ballot. They were all disqualified by a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling in the spring. Since the primary, more and more write-in candidates have come out of the woodwork. Now, there are 11 in all who have submitted their intent to run as write-in candidates to the election office.

If you wish to vote for Aiken County Treasurer, you will be required to write in one of these 11 names on your ballot:

John Cagle
Debra Folk
Jason Goings
Angela Gunter
Melissa Oremus
Francis Pennington
Robin Saylor
Ed Smith
Sonya Spray
Mike Wheelis
Voters are encouraged to use both the Internet and Facebook to learn more about these candidates and remember a name when going to the polls.

Aiken County Auditor

Additionally, two candidates are vying for the auditor spot. On the ballot, you'll see current Aiken County Councilman Charles Barton, who's running as a Republican. Daniel Turno is running against Barton as a write-in candidate. If you wish to vote for Turno as Aiken County auditor, you will be required to write in his name on your ballot.


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