Perry endorses primary candidate

AIKEN - Outgoing Rep. Skipper Perry knows who he wants to replace him in the District 81 seat he's vacating.

Mr. Perry, R-Aiken, who announced earlier this year that he was stepping down from his state legislative position, said he hopes Tom Young beats three other men vying for his seat.

The other men - all Republicans - campaigning for the job are Brad Boni, Aiken County Councilman Scott Singer and volunteer firefighter John Kelly.

All four spoke at Monday's meeting of the Aiken Republican Club at Newberry Hall.

Mr. Perry, who watched the candidate's forum from the back of the room, wore a sticker from Mr. Young's campaign and said the young man was "energetic, honest and hard-working" and would work well with other legislators.

"There's a difference between getting along and working well together," Mr. Perry said. "He works well with people."

Each of the candidates spoke for a few minutes during the forum, touting their positions:

- Mr. Boni complained that "cowardly legislators" have made across-the-board budget cuts rather than rooting out wasteful spending.

"There is no accountability," he said.

- Mr. Kelly pushed for more safety in schools and for equipment for emergency workers. He also criticized South Carolina's dropout rate, which is among the highest in the country.

"The statistics for this state are ridiculous," he said.

- Mr. Singer pushed his political experience, saying he has a verifiable history that proves he can be successful in Columbia. He said he would address economic development, taxes and tort reform if elected.

"If you believe actions speak louder than words and that past accomplishments are a good indicator of future performance," then he should be elected, he said.

- Mr. Young touted his "Palmetto Progress" plan, which would focus on education and economic development.

Too many people are in prisons, he said, because they are "people who have dropped out of school, and they have nothing better to do than to commit crimes."

Mr. Young said he would also support "family values" and would introduce legislation to "protect" marriage and oppose any efforts to legalize civil unions.

The District 81 seat is one of dozens of federal, state and local seats up for grabs this year.

The Democratic and Republican primaries will be held on June 10, and if a runoff is needed it would be held on June 24.

Petition candidates have until July 15 to file. That includes the nonpartisan school board seats up for election this year as well as the Aiken County Soil and Water Conservation Commission.

Other petition seats include the Bath, Clearwater and Langley water and sewer districts.

Reach Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or