The economy was a hot topic as the four candidates for the Democratic nomination for South Carolina’s new 7th Congressional District faced a large crowd Monday night.
Preston Brittain, Parnell Diggs, Harry Pavilack and Gloria Bromell Tinubu spent more than an hour answering questions submitted by readers of the Georgetown Times and Coastal Observer — sponsors of the forum held at Bethel AME Church in Georgetown.
One reader wanted to know how the candidates planned to gain votes from Republicans in November if they are the Democrat nominee after next week’s primary.
“I will not sacrifice my Democrat values to pull in Republican votes by saying just the right thing,” Diggs answered. “I will try to convince those in the middle of the road to come to our side.”
Pavilack said he would “go after” Republicans and their message.
“I think I can show enough things Republicans do wrong,” he said, adding Republican Andre Bauer has said he wants to get rid of the United Nations. “Who would fix the problems in Somalia?”
Tinubu said she plans to win votes by sticking to the issues.
“Education is critical to have the workforce we need,” she said, adding “it’s important to support small and medium sized businesses. Give them the tax breaks that are given to large businesses.”
Brittain said he knows the Democrat nominee must secure Republican votes, especially in Horry County, in order to win in November.
He said he will stress the need to save programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
The dredging of the Port of Georgetown is important to help boost the economy and provide jobs, all four candidates agreed.
Finding the funding is the problem.
Pavilack said he will go to Washington and “talk to the right people” about funding.
Tinubu said the port funding needs to be part of a “national effort.” She said she would work with various officials to improve infrastructure which would include the port.
“We have to find a way to make it work,” Brittain said. “We have to make manufacturers feel comfortable they can locate here and have their products shipped.”
Diggs noted most of the Republican candidates — at a forum last week — said they would not support port funding if it added to the national debt.
“The Republicans are not willing to stand up for Georgetown County. They will not pursue earmarks. I would pursue earmarks. They don’t believe in them under John Boehner leadership,” Diggs said.
No Child Left Behind
All four candidates also agreed funding for the No Child Left Behind program needs to be cut.
Pavilack said the funding needs to be directed elsewhere.
“We should do all we can for education. Whatever money it takes, we need to spend it,” Pavilack said.
Tinubu, calling NCLB “a dismal failure,” said the program resulted in more resources being taken out of public education and given to private schools and programs.
Brittain said he has talked to teachers who say NCLB is “more of a burden than benefit for students.” He said he would help find the proper programs in which to invest.
Diggs called NCLB “a smokescreen” in which too many children “are left behind.”
The candidates were also asked what programs they use that they would be willing to stop using or pay more to continue to use.
Tinubu said she would support defense spending.
“We have fought too many wars at the expense of the people of this country. We need to give up some of our defense spending,” she said, adding the money should be redirected to make sure everyone has equal access to basic education and jobs.”
Pavilack said he would be willing to pay more for the Postal Service “to keep getting mail at my home and office.”
Diggs answered by saying the “Bush tax cuts are killing us. We have a huge debt and the Republicans are crying about it.” He said the problems would be greatly reduced “if the rich paid their fair share.
Brittain said there are 55,000 federal buildings across the country that “are underused or not used at all.” He said those buildings could be rented out or sold and it would save the taxpayers millions on maintenance costs alone.
By Scott Harper
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