Meet the Candidates for S.C. House District 81

News 12 at First at Five / Monday, Oct. 29, 2012

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.

Wells is the Republican on the ticket

"I have fought against over-burdensome regulations that stifle our small businesses and that place a tax burden upon our citizens that's unnecessary," he said.

Wells touts that he's received the endorsement of the S.C. Home Builders Association, the South Carolina Trucking Association, the South Carolina Board of Realtors and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

Vaughters is a Republican, too, but on the ballot, she will appear as "P" for petition candidate. She was one of the hundreds of candidates statewide kicked off the ballot by Supreme Court technicality, but she got the signatures to get back on.

"I knew we needed new direction the Statehouse, but when the legislature sat up there for five weeks and did nothing to correct this situation, I really knew we needed new leadership," she said.

Both promise to take a stand and make a difference in Columbia.

"I'm not going up there, Chad, for the compensation. I'm going up there to represent the views of the people of District 81," Wells said.

"We'll never create more jobs if there is not an attitude or a perception of fairness in the taxation in the state, and there is not that now," said Vaughters, adding that her single voice may not be able to change the system entirely, but she would uncover wrongdoing to her constituents and the citizens of this state, so they could pressure all lawmakers for reform.

Both plan to be strong voices for education and economic growth, too. Both say that economic incentives are sometimes necessary to attract business and jobs to the Palmetto State.

Vaughters says she just wants assurance that taxpayer dollars are being spent effectively in this pursuit.

While Wells brands himself as an approachable small businessman with the economy in mind, Vaughters brands herself as a reformer who will buck the trend and fight "Good Ole Boy" politics.

Wells says he'll remain just as accessible if he's elected, adding that he can be found in the phone book or at his paint store, Park Avenue Paints, at the corner of Newberry Street and Park Avenue in downtown Aiken. He says he'll also carry a message of reform to Columbia.

Vaughters warns her voters to avoid hitting the straight party button at the ballot box. Instead, she encourages voters to take the time to go through each election one by one. If you do hit straight party, it won't fill in any write-in candidates or petition candidates either.

To see the interviews with other South Carolina candidates, click here.

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