In the race for state House District 49, we endorse Democrat John King.
The District 49 seat covers southern York County, including parts of Rock Hill and York. The seat was vacated this year by longtime state Rep. Bessie Moody-Lawrence, who retired.
King is opposed by Republican Marvin Rogers, 32, who is running for public office for the first time.
This was a tough race to call. Both candidates have attributes that would serve them well in office.
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But both also came up short in demonstrating a full understanding of the often complex issues facing the state. We can only hope that the winner on Tuesday will grow in office and do his homework.
King, 32, gets the nod in this race largely because of his political experience. He has served on both the Chester City Council and Chester County Council. He has run once before for this seat, losing to Moody-Lawrence in the 2006 primary by only nine votes.
King is owner of King Funeral Home in Rock Hill and Christopher King Funeral Home in Chester.
Education is his top priority. He said he would work to repeal Act 388, the property tax reform bill that shifted most of the burden for funding school operations statewide from homeowners to a 1-cent sales tax and business property taxes.
King believes the sales tax is too unpredictable to provide a stable source of funding for schools. He also believes too much of the burden now falls on business owners.
King believes payday lenders prey on the less fortunate. He would ban payday lending in the state.
While his opponent believes payday lending can be harmful, trapping people in a painful cycle of debt, he also believes payday lending can be a needed source of cash for some, especially those with low credit scores. He supports regulating the industry rather than banning it.
King is adamantly opposed to school vouchers. Rogers said that, while he is skeptical they would work in South Carolina, he is willing to consider them.
Rogers is a personable candidate with a diverse background. After earning a bachelor's degree at the University of South Carolina Upstate, he did humanitarian work with Samaritan's Purse in Nicaragua and Mexico, becoming fluent in Spanish.
He also has served as an aide to U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis, a Republican serving South Carolina's 4th District. Rogers said he has served as a bridge between Inglis and the African-American community.
Rogers is a Boiling Springs native, and has lived in the district for only two years. King, while also a relative newcomer to the district, grew up in Chester and has had business dealings for many years in Rock Hill.
We are dismayed that King has dodged all debates with Rogers. He said that family emergencies caused him to miss the first two scheduled debates, and he could not attend Tuesday's debate because he was too busy campaigning.
Voters deserved to hear the two candidates debate. We think King was remiss in choosing not to share the stage with his opponent.
Nonetheless, we think his experience in elective office gives him a slight edge in this race.
King's experience in elective office gives him an edge in this state House race.