The District 45 race

The race for the District 45 state House seat features contested primaries for both parties. In the Democratic primary, we endorse Fred Thomas, and in the Republican primary, we endorse Deborah Long.

Thomas, 44, a history teacher at Lancaster High School, is vice chairman of the Lancaster County Council now serving his second term. He was chief page for state Rep. Tom Mangum and ombudsman for the state Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services under Gov. Jim Hodges.

Education is a big issue for him. He believes that Act 388, the property tax relief bill that switched funding for school operations to a one-cent sales tax, was "sleight of hand" that replaced a stable source of school funding for one that undulates with the state of the economy. He also does not believe that vouchers or tax credits for private education are an effective way to improve education.

He favors efforts to control illegal immigration but believes the new state law fails to provide a sufficient system to verify status of employees. He thinks the federal government is primarily responsible for enforcing immigration policy.

He believes developers should provide money, property and infrastructure to offset the cost of new residential development.

Thomas is opposed in the Democratic primary by Tony Starnes, 56, town administrator for Kershaw, and Donald Huffman, 60, a retired electrician from Springs Industries.

Starnes brings diverse experience to the race. Prior to assuming the job as Kershaw administrator five years ago, he spent much of his working life with Springs Industries in jobs which included industrial engineer and quality control.

He believes the state motto should be: "If you don't have it, don't spend it." But he said he would not rule out tax hikes.

He opposes vouchers and thinks teachers should be paid more. He believes immigration policy should be handled largely at the federal level.

Huffman focuses his campaign on the reduction of wasteful spending in Columbia. He thinks enough savings could be found to vastly improve the quality of education in the state.

Deborah Long, our choice in the GOP primary, is a 20-year resident of Indian Land. Long, 52, is an optometrist who operates the Fort Mill Vision Center.

She is the first woman president of the S.C. Optometric Association and a member of the S.C. Board of Examiners in Optometry. She has testified in that capacity several times at state legislative subcommittee hearings.

She opposes Act 388, saying it amounts to "betting on good times." She supported the increase in the cigarette tax. She also supports state efforts to control illegal immigration.

The other Republican in the race, Bruce Miller, 65, moved to South Carolina 18 months ago. A native of Philadelphia, he has retired to the Sun City development in Indian Land.

The principal plank in his platform is new job creation. He would serve as something of a roving ambassador to persuade industrial leaders to bring their operations to the state.