Letters to the Editor

News and Press leans too far left

The president has referred to some members of the media as “Fake News.” He has never said ALL media are fake news, just that “fake news” applies to some. It is obvious this is fact.

I subscribe to the News & Press because I want to keep up with local issues. The (Florence) Morning News, Pee Dee Weekly and Hartsville Messenger are all good sources, but I want to keep up with what is going on IN DARLINGTON. I even sold subscriptions to the News & Press as a fundraiser for my Boy Scout troop in the 1960s. It is always good to have local stories with local insight.

Most of the local news is fact-based and accurate, and I enjoy reading columns by Bill Shepard and Bill Holland – and most of Bobby Bryant’s columns are insightful, informative and entertaining.

But . . . every week I see those left-leaning editorial cartoons in the News & Press. I know everyone does not like the same thing. If that were the case, Baskin-Robbins would be known as “The Home of Vanilla.” However, it appears the N&P believes everyone slants to the left.

Most of the editorial cartoons, including four of the past five published, are either anti-Trump or anti-GOP. The fifth of those five was not political.

Now, I am not a simpleton. I recognize most of the media slant left. I recently read a letter to the editor in the (Florence) Morning News penned by a former editor of the News & Press. The letter was so leftward-slanted I thought it was a joke at first. A few minutes watching television news will confirm the media are mostly left-leaning.

I am not going to try to defend the president of the United States. He, like everyone, has his faults. He did carry Darlington County in the 2016 election. Darlington County’s majority also went to U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, Darlington County Treasurer Jeff Robinson and S.C. Senate candidate Leon Winn, all of whom are Republicans.

Just because the media slant left does not mean the electorate slants that way.

The world is made up of different people from different backgrounds, with different religions, races, languages, etc., but we all have to share the same space. For the most part we are succeeding in doing so. A little bit more diversity of opinion on the pages of the News & Press, especially in editorial cartoons, would be welcome.

Charles E. Saverance,

Check VOTE411 and plan to vote

Proudly, I boast that our local League of Women Voters of Darlington County has an area “One-Stop Shop” for voters this election season.

Voters in Darlington County can now go to VOTE411.org for an online voters’ guide of our county. If you enter your address, it will show you the races on your ballot. You can compare candidates by reading their answers to League survey questions. Our local newspapers may also print portions of this guide. (The News & Press did Oct. 24.)

Do yourself a favor and print or make your own notes for your day at the polls Nov. 6.

On this local ballot, a state constitutional amendment question pertains to how the state superintendent of education should be selected. Should she or he be appointed by the governor or continue to be elected by the people? Our state League of Women Voters of S.C. (LWVSC) has a studied opinion that this amendment presently has inadequate candidate qualifications and, for that reason alone, LWVSC opposes the amendment.

Check VOTE411, plan to vote and encourage your family and friends to do the same. See you at the polls this Election Day.

Sheila Mulcahy Haney,
president, League of Women Voters of Darlington County

Eliminating filing fees is a step toward a more beneficial society

With the upcoming general election, there’s much stir in our state’s political atmosphere. Facebook has been filled with people sharing last-minute support for local candidates, yard signs continue to densely populate busy road intersections, and some, like myself, are still trying to figure out what certain positions are even responsible for doing within our community and state.

While this time is dedicated to determining the best candidate for office, there’s always that slight fantasy where we dive into the realm of politics and imagine ourselves in certain political offices.

As someone who enjoys going to political meetings, I oftentimes find myself putting myself in the shoes of the members responsible for forming the legislation within our community, so, naturally, I did some research into the process of running for office. The process was fairly simple: filling out paperwork, meeting certain requirements and a filing fee.

I was a bit curious why Darlington County (and the state) require a filing fee for competing for a public office, but the simple reason given on the SCVotes website explaining the mandated laws for fees were designed “to offset state costs associated with the conduct of party primaries” temporarily sufficed my short-lived inquisition.

Although somewhat of an inconvenience, I thought that the fee was a positive and beneficial idea. When introducing money into any situation, people tend to have second thoughts, ensuring people take their candidacy for office seriously.

When looking at the amount of each filing fee, however, I was startled to realize that some offices require candidates to pay thousands of dollars each term they run. Although some positions, such as the seat that represents a county council district, only have a $280 filing fee, larger offices require candidates to cough up an incredible amount of money. U.S. House of Representatives candidates, for example, are mandated to pay a filing fee of $3,480 — an amount most of us wouldn’t be able to deliver.
The first defense that comes to mind when discussing such a subject is declaring that these candidates have plenty of money to pay for a such a fee, but this argument brings to light the exact issue that occurs when large filing fees are placed: only higher-income individuals have the capability of running for higher offices.

This, in turn, leads to a plentiful amount of issues including special interest, a lack of diversity and greater divide between politicians and constituents. When the political system is designed to enable only higher-income individuals to run, a majority of the winning candidates will inevitably be of higher income.

With a majority of higher-income individuals in our Legislature, it’s only a matter of time before they begin introducing and passing legislation tailored toward the middle and upper class and disregarding individuals of lower income. In addition, a majority of higher-class individuals results in a lack of diversity. Having individuals with a similar background could be beneficial in some regards, but a lack of differing viewpoints prevents true representation and the opportunity for different ideas to be expressed becomes a nonexistent vision.

Through the culmination of these two things, politicians will have a growing divide between the everyday Americans that voted them into office and themselves. When the requirement of filing fees is removed, the opportunity for 100 percent participation within our community becomes a genuine possibility.

I believe that eliminating filing fees will eliminate the benefits for high-income individuals while simultaneously benefiting the health of our democracy. While doing this is just a step in making our democracy and country better, any step forward is a progression toward a more beneficial society.

Stephen Josey,

New courthouse needs to be a priority

It would be hard to improve on the News & Press’ coverage of the courthouse issue in last week’s issue (dated Oct. 24). Thank you for two front-page stories on the subject. I encourage my fellow voters in Darlington County to vote YES on this question on Nov. 6.The ballot question uses the term “judicial center,” referring to a courthouse. In counties across our state, numerous judicial centers have been built in the past 10-15 years. Security has been a major reason for the spate of construction. In our case, our courthouse also has deterioration. The time for building or renovating in our county is past ripe.

While state law requires the judicial center (courthouse) be located within the city of Darlington, no such law exists for administrative offices (such as auditor’s, assessor’s and treasurer’s offices).

Personally, I hope the administrative offices will be located in or near Public Square. I think the activity that the employees and foot traffic generate is crucial to the city’s well-being (and this is important to the county as a whole).

While plans are not yet finalized on the “wheres” or new appearances of the building(s), I am willing to live with the uncertainty. The result may not be everything I want, but it seems important that we keep the project rolling. Progress on this project is what we need now. If the question were voted down (perish the thought), how is that really going to help anything?

Having watched the county’s recent handling of this matter, I have confidence in the approach being taken.

For example, officials are having the current courthouse assessed as to feasibility of having it renovated. They held a series of public forums to find out public preferences. (Results were that no one felt leaving things “as is” with our current courthouse was an option.) And over the past six years, the county has acquired land just north of Public Square for a possible judicial center. (A building that was formerly a Radio Shack, dry cleaners and gas station was located on a portion of that land.)
Indeed, I hope county officials will not need to fight the funding battle all over again to make these needed improvements. Let’s keep things moving. I hope you will make it a priority to cast a YES vote.

Dyan Cohen,

Four options for new courthouse

Helpful information was given to us about our Courthouse at a public town meeting hosted by two Darlington County Council members, councilman Robert Kilgo, councilwoman Joyce Wingate Thomas and Scott Suggs, clerk of court. All our questions were answered and easy to understand.

These are the four options we were told about:
First option: We can vote yes on the ballot on a 1 percent sales tax increase to raise $20 million for a new Courthouse or renovation of the old Courthouse. This would be for no more than four years. This would spread the burden of paying for the courthouse with all citizens and visiting tourists.
Second option was to raise property taxes, but County Council chose not to do this.

Third option is to pay on a yearly bond, which is borrowed money. We would have to have a bond lawyer to handle this and it will cost us more.

Last option: If we don’t do anything, and if our Courthouse ends up in very poor condition, the S.C. Supreme Court could come in and move all our court functions out of Darlington County and into another county, such as Florence or Chesterfield. That means people would have to go to another county just to serve their jury duty or for any court-related business.

If you agreed that the first option is the best, you can vote yes on Nov. 6 under “county capital project sales tax.” Again, this is a 1 percent sales tax increase to raise money for the Darlington County Courthouse for not more than four years.

Chesley and Barbara Benjamin,

Author: Rachel Howell

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