Senate hopeful seeks to fix health care

Democrat Leah Moody kicked off her state Senate campaign Thursday talking about universal health care and better education.

The 37-year-old Rock Hill attorney announced her plans to run for the District 17 seat, held by Democrat Linda Short of Chester, at noon Thursday at the Summit Restaurant in Chester and later at the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce in Rock Hill.

District 17 includes all of Chester County and parts of Fairfield, York and Union counties.

"Ladies and gentleman, I am change," she said to around two dozen people in a conference room at the chamber headquarters in downtown Rock Hill. "I am a reflection of the new generation of leaders to come."

Moody, the daughter of state Rep. Bessie Moody-Lawrence, D-Rock Hill, cited a need for broader health-care coverage and better schools, although her speech was infused with more passion than specifics.

Still, the message seemed to strike a chord with supporters such as Hattie Ross, one of Moody's neighbors. Ross said young leaders such as Moody can bring progress.

"I do believe it's a new day," she said, repeating what Moody said during her speech.

Talking to The Herald after the announcement, Moody offered more thoughts about her positions.

"Overall, I think we can all agree that our main concern is health care," she said, noting the need for covering the uninsured.

"It's expensive, of course, but we have to look at a way that we can capture those people," she said.

And how would such a project be funded?

"You look at the budget and see how we are allocating our monies," she said. "We have to be responsible fiscally. ... And if we don't have a healthy group of people, then how are you going to get people to work?"

As for her plans on education, she said she'll need to look at the needs of individual districts.

"York County may not have the same (education) issues as Chester County or Fairfield or Union," she said. "The specific problem for each district, I plan to ask or sit down with people to talk about them and (see) what do they perceive as problems."

Moody joins state Rep. Creighton Coleman, D-Winnsboro, in the race for the Short's seat. Short previously said she would resign at the end of the term. Moody was previously listed as a possible candidate for the state House seat held by her mother, who also said she wouldn't seek re-election.

When asked why she wasn't pursuing her mother's seat, Moody said serving in the state Senate has been a dream of hers since she stood in the Senate chambers as a high school junior at Palmetto Girls State. She also said the seat wasn't her mother's to give.

"It's not her seat," she said. "She didn't get to choose her successor. ... So why not do something that you have wanted to do since the 11th grade?"

Moody also said the possibility of being the only black female in the state Senate is a wonderful opportunity.

"I can't speak for everybody, but I bring another perspective," she said. "I mean, think about it. I bring another perspective because I'm a single female, owning my own business, practicing in what used to be considered a male-dominant profession. I think women need to be heard. There will be one other female there. ... It's a Republican female. So at least have a Democrat."