The nine Republican candidates hoping to be the first person to hold the newly created 7th Congressional District seat took to the stage Tuesday night to talk about the issues.
The forum — sponsored by the Georgetown Times and Coastal Observer — was held inside the new Waccamaw High School auditorium.
Since it was held in Georgetown County, it’s no surprise the dredging of the Port was a big topic for the candidates who answered questions submitted by readers of the two newspapers.
Renee' Culler said if elected she plans to try to get rid of some of the federal regulations that hamper things such as the Port dredging.
“Government is too involved in our lives and businesses,” she said.
Katherine Jenerette agreed, saying one of the biggest obstacles is the rule the Port needs a certain amount of tonage in cargo shipments before money is allocated for dredging. The Port cannot meet that requirement without the dredging.
“These policies have got to be changed,” Jenerette said.
Randall Wallace said it’s important local officials and businesses that will benefit “make a case in Washington that it is a viable port.” He said the lawmakers who control the purse strings must see it’s “in the best interest” of the country that the dredging occur.
Jim Mader said he feels state and local governments need to help cover some of the costs of the dredging.
“This is a chance for Georgetown to survive,” he said.
Jenerette disagreed about who should pay.
“We have already paid for it to be dredged over and over and over. We just need to go get the money. It’s a Federal port,” she said.
Dick Withington said instead of dredging, businesses should make what is there work for them by using barges to offload cargo.
He also suggested private industry help foot the bill, an idea later expanded on by Andre Bauer.
“We should let businesses get tax incentives for helping to pay for the dredging,” Bauer said.
All of the candidates, when asked, said they would not support funding for the Port if it resulted in an increase to the federal deficit.
The exception was Rice who said supporting the improvement of infrastructure is vital in order for America to remain competitive with the rest of the world.
“The days of earmarks is over,” he said, adding projects such as the port need to be funded “on a merit system.” Rice said.
Read more about the forum in Friday’s edition of the Georgetown Times.
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