AIKEN --- Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley continued a statewide tour of her "Less Talk. More Jobs" campaign in Aiken on Thursday.
Choosing downtown Aiken's thriving small business district not only highlighted Haley's initiatives, it was a small victory for entrepreneurs who have looked to local leaders for tax relief.
Haley's jobs creation plan includes "cutting red tape" so agencies don't impose unnecessary regulations for business operators.
As she detailed the four-point plan in front of Lionel Smith, LTD on Laurens Street, downtown employees and business owners stood in agreement, noting that Haley's words underscored a similar issue in the city.
Deedee Vaughters, a small business owner and Haley supporter, has spearheaded efforts to remove a businesses licensing fee by the city of Aiken. As city council member Dick Dewar and Mayor Fred Cavanaugh stood behind Haley on the street corner, Vaughters said she hoped they were listening.
"They're showing the same support for her policies, which mirror what we're asking for in Aiken," Vaughters said.
Haley said although she won't dictate to local government as governor, she has reiterated her message to leave small businesses alone to city and county councils.
Haley's plan also includes eliminating corporate income tax and appointing business owners to boards of state agencies as accountability measures.
Seizing control of the port structure along the Savannah River is also among Haley's tasks. An absent governor and too much legislative input didn't cater to consumers to attract carriers, she said, which has caused Georgia's ports to become more attractive and lucrative.
Tom and Joyce Walpool, Aiken retirees and former Greenville business owners, said they want to see how the plans will be implemented. Although the Walpools traditionally vote Republican, they said they're equally interested in Democratic competitor Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Kershaw County.
"As (Gov.) Sanford's protégé, we're asking more questions of Haley and looking for even more answers," Mr. Walpool said. "This election will definitely be interesting."