Our View: New voices, changes on the ballot in Charleston County


 Charleston County voters have the power to reshape government Tuesday by electing leaders who will listen and act to make it more responsive. To look at our national, state and school board recommendations from previous editorials, click here. In Charleston County, there also are great people offering themselves for county offices. We endorse the following in contested elections:

Ben Pogue for 9th Circuit Solicitor. Pogue offers a refreshing approach to criminal justice that will prioritize dealing with long-standing racial inequities. “Systemic racism is at the heart of the mistrust, ineffectiveness, excessive cost and impact of our justice system,” he told the City Paper. He deserves a chance to try to fix what’s been lingering too long.

Kristin Graziano for Charleston County Sheriff. It’s time for a new sheriff to come to town. As South Carolina’s first female sheriff, Graziano will break barriers and incorporate long-needed new thinking at the sheriff’s office.

Julie Armstrong for Charleston County Clerk of Court. We believe Armstrong’s television ads rightly portray her as the nation’s best official in charge of keeping records for court cases. First elected in 1992, she has proven her commitment to transparency and service time and again. She deserves our continued support.

Bobbi Jo O’Neal for Charleston County Coroner. For the last 20 years, O’Neal has served in the coroner’s office, most recently as chief deputy coroner. A forensic nurse and certified investigator, she’s got the professional skills and experience that a world-class county needs. 

Rob Wehrman for Charleston County Council, District 3. Wehrman will use his legal background to fight for working families and move beyond the good-old-boy structure that’s been around too long.

Kylon Middleton for Charleston County Council, District 6. Middleton, a respected pastor, will bring much-needed moral leadership to a council that’s been lacking it. A native son, he will insist upon more transparency, a welcome change.

Sean Thornton for Charleston County Council, District 7. We like the libertarian idealism offered by Thornton, who says he’ll fight regressive taxes, work to kill Jim Crow-era zoning laws and promote outside-the-box solutions. Sounds good to us.

There are also three questions on Charleston County ballots:

Education capital Improvements Sales and Use Tax Act Referendum: Vote yes. The proposal seeks to extend a special 1 percent sales and use tax in Charleston County for up to six years to support educational capital improvement projects. Our schools need better buildings, technology and upgrades. This revenue stream will generate more than $700 million for county schools.  

Housing Question 1: Vote yes. The proposal seeks to allow Charleston County Council to levy a two mill tax to fund a Local Housing Trust Fund for affordable housing. The owner of a $300,000 home will pay about $24 a year, but the county will raise $8 million a year. That’s a good deal.

Housing Question 2: Vote no. The proposal seeks to allow council to issue $130 million of general obligation bonds for affordable housing. We don’t like the idea of borrowing money in one fell swoop that would be paid with the two mill tax because we’ll lose millions to interest costs that could be used to build more affordable homes. 

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