State Rep. Gary Simrill has represented parts of Rock Hill and areas west of the city including Newport for 18 years.
Democrat Holly Cooper said she thinks it's time for a change and "innovative thinking" in District 46. That's one of the reasons Cooper said she's challenging the incumbent Republican lawmaker.
"I feel that it's time for change," said Cooper, a public relations and marketing specialist in the Carolinas. "I'm running because of the people I met in 2008 (while working on campaigns) who said they wanted to see a new person come into the Statehouse willing to fight for working class people."
Simrill said that's what he's been doing for his district during his nine terms in the Statehouse and why he's running for another term.
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"It's really to serve," Simrill said. "I look at being in office not as being an elected official but a public servant. I'm serving my constituency and being a good steward of tax dollars."
Representatives should focus more on providing good government than passing more laws, Simrill said. For him, he said, it's about seeking solutions when problems arise.
When people complained about traffic congestion on Cherry Road, Simrill said he sought to get electronic left-turn signs that are now there.
"Little things like that make a difference in people's life in a public manner," he said. "I got the ball running."
House lawmakers haven't looked at all the ways they could fix public education, Cooper said. She said legislators need to repeal or fix Act 388, which exempted owner-occupied homes from the property taxes that fund school operations.
"I don't think there's an immediate solution," Cooper said. "Dialogue with superintendents, teachers, people in the classroom is key on how to improve situations for teachers. The answer isn't raising taxes to fix it. The answer is possibly reallocating funding to fix education."
The part of Act 388 that needs fixed, Simrill said, is the business tax. It's higher under Act 388.
"I treat tax dollars in Columbia as they were my own," he said. "I understand the economic state, tough times. As we go through it as a government, we learn to streamline. We learn to do more with less."
If elected again, Simrill said he wants to move toward making government more empowering of people and operate government in a more efficient manner.
"When people turn to government for help, it causes the system to grow," he said. "What we need to do is empower more people and take less money from them; give them more control over their spending, not government.
"When we get beyond the core functions of government, we start taking more tax money than needed, which hurts the individual."
With the state of the economy, Cooper said, an official can't always say he or she isn't going to raise taxes.
"You have to look at each opportunity to bring revenue in, especially if new jobs aren't being brought to York County," she said. "We need to be more small business friendly."
If elected, Cooper said she'd like to set up regular meetings with Rock Hill and York County council members to discuss bringing new jobs to the city. She'd also like to work with Mecklenburg County to bring businesses to both sides of the state line.
Cooper said bringing airplane manufacturer Boeing to Charleston has created 12,000 jobs in the state, but that's not helping those out of work in Rock Hill.
Simrill, however, said it's not the government's job to create jobs. It's their function to make regulations easier for businesses to grow and have fewer taxes to allow them to operate in the black.
He pointed to an announcement this week about a manufacturer bringing 25 jobs to York County as a collateral business brought in by Boeing's move to the state.
If elected, Cooper said she'd like to beef up regulations at area senior facilities and add more inspections. Through her work with the guardian ad litem program, Cooper said she's seen the overloaded caseloads for the state Department of Social Services. She said she'd like to make changes there, too.
The salary for House District 46, which represents more than 23,000 registered voters, is $10,400 annually, said Wanda Hemphill, director of York County Registration and Elections.
Marital status: Married to Mary Ruth Dobson
Children: 3; Mallory, 14; Sarah Kate, 12; and Dozier, 7
Education: Winthrop University, bachelor's degree in business and marketing
Political experience: S.C. House of Representatives, Nov. 1992 to present; 9 terms
Occupation: Small business owner
Civic experience: member, Westminster Presbyterian Church; Kiwanis International, Greater York County
Political hero: Robert E. Lee because "he stood for what he believed in, and he was gracious in defeat."
Holly Ann Cooper
Marital status: Single
Education: Buffalo State College, bachelor's degree in journalism; minor certification in coaching football and basketball
Political experience: Political consultant for U.S. Rep. John Spratt's campaign in 2008
Occupation: Public relations and marketing consultant
Civic experience: Member of Agape International Ministries in Rock Hill, marketing chair for Young Men of Distinction scholarship program in Rock Hill, guardian ad litem in South Carolina, sat on 2020 Comprehensive Planning Committee transportation focus group in Rock Hill
Political hero: Shirley Chisholm because she was the first black woman to hold a U.S. Congress seat. "She opened the doors for not just African-American women, but all women to get involved."