Originally created 06/07/01

Lawmaker announces run for top agriculture post



WAGENER - After 15 years in the state House of Representatives, Wagener Republican Charles R. Sharpe says he'll run for statewide office next year.

He will seek the post being vacated by the retirement of Commissioner of Agriculture Les Tindal.

Mr. Sharpe announced his candidacy Wednesday, saying he will focus on preserving natural resources and promoting agricultural production for future generations.

"I just want to use my energy and enthusiasm for our rural regions to promote and protect the agricultural industry and the character of the rural landscape," he said. "I think I can best do that as commissioner."

The early announcement also was an invitation to others who have pondered the race to throw their support to Mr. Sharpe, who farms his own land and champions agricultural issues in the Legislature.

He has been a member of the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee since 1985, his first year in the House, and he has been chairman since 1994. He was the first Republican named to head the committee, which deals with an array of outdoor issues, including farming, forestry, fish and game, state parks and rural development.

With a campaign planning committee already in place, Mr. Sharpe said, his advisory committee will be "every man, woman and child in the state of South Carolina."

"The way I see it, everybody in the state has a stake in its future," he said. "They like to eat, and we grow food. They live in houses; we grow timber. They wear clothes; we grow cotton. They have a stake in agricultural and natural resources issues, and I want them to be a part of that process."

Reach Margaret N. O'Shea at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.