CLOVER -- On New Year's Day, state Rep. Herb Kirsh sat down and took an inventory of himself.
"Can I think? Can I write? Can I read? Can I talk to people?" asked the 78-year old Clover Democrat.
The answer was "yes."
"If I can do all those things, I'm running again," Kirsh said.
Kirsh announced this week his intention to run again in November for the S.C. House District 47 seat he's held since 1979. He's the oldest and longest-serving member of the General Assembly.
In office, Kirsh said he has fought for responsible government spending and better education.
For his work, he's been named Legislator of the Year numerous times, including the 2007 award from the Catawba Regional Council of Governments. If he's re-elected, it will be his 16th term.
Filing for the election opens March 17 at noon and closes March 31 at noon.
He shared his thoughts Thursday on his intention to run again and what the new legislative season will bring. Answers have been edited for brevity.
Question: Why did you decide to run again?
Answer: "I think I'm pretty good at doing what I'm doing. I'm real good at constituent service. I'm pretty conservative when it comes to spending money. I wish I could get them to spend a whole lot less. ... I'm really looking forward to another go around."
Q: When you go back this session, are there any specific bills you hope to sponsor?
A: "I copied an ATV bill from North Carolina because the one we had the governor vetoed and the Senate didn't override it. This makes it a little stricter for different age groups (to use ATVs). I still have some bills carried over. I had a bill the last two to three years for this penny option tax we've got. I had a bill that they couldn't charge it on groceries. We had the sales tax on groceries, but we still got that one-cent penny. The only thing is the speaker called me up a few weeks ago and said he wanted to take that bill from me and put his name on it first. I'm the next sponsor. I don't really care as long as we get it passed. I want to get the sales tax on food down to zero. With the speaker behind it, I think it will pass."
Q: Do you think the tax relief on owner-occupied homes will create a shortfall for schools?
A: "No. I think if there is a shortfall, we'll appropriate funds from the general fund to take care of it. Schools are not going to be hurt, in my opinion. People have to realize that it's like when a plant downsizes, if you've got a CEO, he can manage. It's the same way for the schools. If you've got a good superintendent and finance officer, they can manage."
Q: How do you think the Catawba River water transfer situation with North Carolina should be dealt with?
A: "I don't want them taking advantage of us, which I think they're trying. I think they're trying to take advantage of us, because in Cabarrus County -- Concord and Kannapolis -- they're right there at the Yadkin River. They're just a few miles away from that river, and they can get all the water they want instead of taking out of Catawba. I think that's one of the big problems we're going to have."
Q: How do you think the illegal immigration issue should be dealt with?
A: "As long as they got their green card and they're legal, that suits me fine. But if they're illegal, I think something should be done about it. The reason the General Assembly didn't do anything about it last year was because we all thought Washington was going to do something, but they didn't. My thing is, I want to keep it where the people that have the right legal stuff, that's fine. But those who don't have it, they need to send them back."