Originally created 11/05/06

Health care, education top issues in District 96 race



South Carolina House of Representatives District 96, which includes about 1,500 registered voters in Aiken County, will send a new lawmaker to the Statehouse on Election Day.

Republican Kit Spires, who defeated state Rep. Ken Clark in a June runoff, will take on Democrat Sadie Kirkland Wannamaker in Tuesday's general election.

The bulk of the district, which includes Wagener, Perry and Salley in Aiken County, is in Lexington County.

Both candidates identified public education and health care as major issues in their campaigns.

"First of all, we need to support preventive health care," Ms. Wannamaker said.

Mr. Spires said he encounters many senior citizens at his pharmacy who are confused about the federal Medicare plan.

"We need legislation to make sure that the insurance companies are giving the senior citizens all the facts," he said.

The candidates also said the state needs to look at the way it funds public education.

"Too much money is going to the administrators, and not enough is going to the teachers and the students," said Mr. Spires.

"I believe that we should focus all of our money on education and not on school vouchers," Ms. Wannamaker said.

Mr. Spires said he decided to run for the House seat because his property taxes have gone up $1,000 in the past 10 years."This property situation is out of control. We are overtaxed," he said.

Ms. Wannamaker said her human resources background has given her an understanding of people's basic needs.

"I know I can make a difference," she said in an e-mail.

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395 or betsy.gilliland@augustachronicle.com.

Question: Would you support a plan to equalize public school spending for all South Carolina students to eliminate disparities between rural and affluent districts? Why, or why not?

Kit Spires - Republican

For too long, the mentality has been to look at the system first. We need to consider the child before we consider the system. I support a plan that would fund schools based on the students and their individual needs. I am in favor of bringing financial decisions closer to home because I know local citizens have a better understanding of our students' needs.

Sadie Wannamaker - Democrat

One of the things I believe very strongly is that our state has been lacking in a comprehensive plan for supporting our public schools. We need to come up with a system for supporting all of our children throughout our state. Education of a child should not depend on the area in South Carolina the child happens to be born. We need to maximize available federal funds.

Question: What would you do to bring meaningful property tax reform to residents?

Kit Spires - Republican

We are already seeing the signs that the much-touted property tax reform package passed by the General Assembly earlier this year isn't going to get the job done. If we really want to reduce property taxes, then we have to reduce spending. I will fight for fiscal restraint in order to pass savings on to our hard-working families in the form of permanent property tax relief.

Sadie Wannamaker - Democrat

While tax relief is always a hot item in an election year, changes must be well thought out and based on sound economic data and analysis. I am committed to making sure that this research is accomplished before I make a decision on my position.

Question: How will you ensure that the small portion of Aiken County residents who live in District 96 have adequate representation?

Kit Spires - Republican

I firmly believe that the representative for District 96 cannot play favorites with the portions of his or her district. In order to make sure the people of Aiken County are fully represented, I plan to hold regular town hall meetings and keep open lines of communication with those residents.

Sadie Wannamaker - Democrat

I will be elected to represent all of District 96, which includes portions of Lexington and Aiken counties. I am fortunate that I live in the central part of District 96, which means I live within 15 minutes of any of the small towns. I will be a member of the Legislative delegation from Aiken County and will work with local leaders to serve that portion of the county.

CANDIDATE PROFILES

Kit Spires - Republican

Age: 52

Residence: Pelion

Education: University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, 1976

Profession: Pharmacist and owner of Big S Drugs

Political Experience: Past mayor pro-tem of Pelion; Pelion Town Council, 2000-04

Family: Two children, Kevin, 29; Kristina, 21

Sadie Wannamaker - Democrat

Age: 65

Residence: Swansea

Education: University of South Carolina

Profession: Retired human resources director for state Department of Health and Environmental Control, Region 5

Political Experience: None

Family: Two children, Robby, 42; Rhonda, 39; three grandchildren