District 18 – Meet your Candidates for South Carolina House of Representatives

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This episode of Simple Civics: Greenville County was made possible by support from Beth and Mike Andrews, supporting civic engagement from all of our community’s residents, and Upstate Warrior Solution, a community-based nonprofit organization serving warriors and their families in the upstate of South Carolina, and LiveWell Greenville, bridging access to healthy eating and active living since 2011.

Meet Tramaine Booker and Alan Morgan, candidates for South Carolina House of Representatives District 18, generally representing northeastern Greenville County, including Greer. In this episode, each candidate has 10 minutes to introduce themselves to the voters. Your vote is so important! Please take a listen and share with your neighbors.

Links:

Tramaine Booker: https://bookerforschouse.com/

Alan Morgan: https://morganforsc.com/

Sample Ballot: www.scvotes.gov

Transcript

Katy Smith:
On Tuesday, June 11th, South Carolina holds its statewide-wide primary elections. I’m Katy Smith with Greater Good Greenville, and over the next several weeks, we are pleased to bring you interviews with most of the candidates in contested primary races for South Carolina House and Senate. Today, we feature candidates Tramaine Booker and incumbent Alan Morgan, who are running for House District 18, which generally covers northeastern Greenville County, including Greer. But first, a quick primer on why primaries are so important. The statewide primaries are when political parties choose their candidates to be on the ballot in the general election on November 5th, when we will also vote for president. This primary on June 11th will be for important offices like state legislature, which discusses things such as roads and bridges, education, taxes, abortion and guns, our county sheriff, and our county council, which considers issues such as zoning, roads, public safety, and more. In the Greenville County area, we have 37 offices across the county that will be on primary ballots. For almost half of those, only one party had candidates that registered to run, meaning that practically speaking, the June 11th primary is the election.

Katy Smith:
In South Carolina, we don’t register to vote by party, and all primaries are open, meaning that you are free to vote either the Republican or Democratic primary ballot. Of course, there are other parties, but they do not have a primary in our state. We did an episode that explains how this works, and we’ll link it in the show notes for you. District 18 had only Republican candidates file, so based on the outcome of the June 11th Republican primary, either Tramaine Booker or Alan Morgan will be the only candidate on the ballot in November and thus essentially the winner. If you want to see which district you live in and who will be on your ballot, you can check out the links on the episode page for a sample ballot from the South Carolina Election Commission. Here’s how the interviews worked. All candidates received the same question at the time of their invitation to join us, and they were given 10 minutes for their interview. Candidates were allowed to bring along a companion, such as a campaign manager, family member, or friend, and to record our session themselves. There were no edits made to the interview. We’ve put links to the participating candidates’ preferred internet presence on the episode page. First up is Tramaine Booker. I’m pleased to be joined by Tramaine Booker, who is running for South Carolina House District 18. Thanks so much for joining us, Tramaine.

Tramaine Booker:
Yeah, thank you for having me.

Katy Smith:
Great. Tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

Tramaine Booker:
Well, I’m Tramaine Booker, and I’m running to represent District 18 in the South Carolina House because I believe in service, community, and conservative principles. I was born and raised right here in Greer, where my journey began at a local Chick-fil-A, and I transitioned through a rewarding career in banking before I found my next calling in real estate, helping families secure their dream homes. And throughout my life, I’ve been a dedicated husband and father, and every professional choice I’ve made has been with the intention of bettering the lives of the people around me. And I understand the unique challenges and opportunities that face our community because I’ve lived them myself. And I’m running because I’ve seen firsthand the issues that our district faces from the need for better infrastructure to the urgent requirements of our local businesses that are the backbone of our economy.

Tramaine Booker:
And these aren’t just policy points to me. They’re real problems that affect real people. Earlier this year, I actually announced my intention to run for the Greenville County Council, and I was motivated by a vision to provide strong conservative leadership at a local level. But however, as I walked through the neighborhoods and talked to the residents, I realized the challenges we face require solutions on a higher, more impactful level. Issues like enhancing our public safety, improving our schools, and protecting our community values need a strong advocate in the statehouse. So my campaign is built on the foundation of strengthening our family and community integrity, driving economic growth through fiscal reform.

Tramaine Booker:
Modernizing our infrastructure with sustainable solutions, reforming education for excellence, and ensuring public safety and justice. These are pillars that are designed to reflect the values that we hold in District 18 and provide a roadmap for the kind of representation I aim to provide. Running for office is more than seeking a position. It’s about making a meaningful impact. I’m an outsider. I’m a political newcomer. I’m a common-sense conservative reformer who will go to Columbia to get things done for District 18. I want to be a voice that champions bold reforms and serves as a unifying voice for our conservative values. I’m not a career politician. I’m a citizen who believes in action, and I’m ready to take the step to ensure our community’s future is as bright as its people.

Katy Smith:
Thank you. What do you believe are the biggest issues facing the constituents and the state?

Tramaine Booker:
So as I’ve knocked on doors, I’ve spoken to residents across the district and several key issues consistently come up that are a deep concern to our community. Those issues are not only frequent topics of our conversation, but also the pillars of my campaign. So one’s public safety. One of the most pressing concerns is public safety. Our law enforcement officers and first responders are the backbone of a safe community, and they deserve our respect and support. And I’m committed to fighting for better pay for those brave men and women and advocating for tougher sentences for violent criminals and repeat offenders. It’s essential that we keep our neighborhoods safe and secure, ensuring that criminals do not have easy access to firearms and that every school has the funding to hire school resource officers. Another is education reform. Another significant issue of the state is our education system. So one-size-fits-all approach is failing our children. I strongly support empowering parents through expanded school choice, allowing them to decide the best educational pathways for their children, whether it’s public, private, or charter schools. We need to overhaul our curriculum standards to ensure our students are prepared for real-world success and provide our educators with the resources they need to excel.

Tramaine Booker:
Another is economic growth and job creation. Economic growth is so crucial. With my background in finance and real estate, I understand the challenge that small businesses face. I plan to reduce those hurdles, foster a more business-friendly environment, and encourage innovation, which all are key to job creation and economic prosperity. A few more conservative values and family integrity. The sanctity of family and our conservative values are under threat by radical policies. I stand against policies that would harm our children or erode our traditional values, such as the inclusion of boys and girls sports or the ability of transgender reassignment treatments for minors. Protecting our children from obscene content online and ensuring fair competition in sports is paramount.

Tramaine Booker:
And illegal immigration and drug trafficking. Finally, the issue of illegal immigration and drug trafficking, particularly fentanyl, are critical for security and health in our communities. I’m dedicated to supporting stronger enforcement measures to secure our borders and increase penalties for those convicted of trafficking dangerous drugs like fentanyl. Each of the issues that I mentioned is vital, not just to the well-being of our district, but to the broader future of South Carolina. In Columbia, I will work tirelessly to address these challenges comprehensively, ensuring that our district and our state are places where every resident can thrive.

Katy Smith:
Thank you. What would be your priorities if elected this year?

Tramaine Booker:
So if elected to represent District 18 in the South Carolina House, my immediate priorities would align closely with the concerns that I’ve heard from my residents in the area where I believe that I can make the most significant impact. So, you know, one of those is economic development and support for small businesses. Our first priority will be to drive economic growth by supporting our local businesses. This includes reducing regulatory hurdles, fostering a business-friendly environment, and encouraging innovation. Small businesses are the heart of our community and the key to job creation, and I will work to ensure that they have the resources that they need to flourish. Another is public safety enhancements. Another top priority is enhancing public safety, which means advocating for increased funding for law enforcement and first responders to ensure that they are well compensated and equipped. I’ll also push for tougher penalties for serious crimes, especially for violent criminals and repeat offenders, and ensure that our schools are secure by funding school resource officers.

Tramaine Booker:
Another is education reform. Education will also be a key focus. I’m committed to advocating for school choice, providing parents with the power to choose the best educational settings for their children, whether it’s in public, private or charter schools. I will work to overhaul curriculum standards to better prepare our students for the challenges of the future and expand vocational training to align education with the evolving job market.

Tramaine Booker:
One thing that people bring up all the time is infrastructure. So infrastructure improvement, modernizing our infrastructure is critical for supporting our community’s growth and enhancing the quality of life for all residents. I’ll advocate for strategic investments in our roads and bridges and public utilities to keep pace with our expanding needs while preserving the natural beauty of our region. And finally, I just want to uphold conservative values and family integrity. I’ll steadfastly uphold and protect our conservative values and the sanctity of family. That includes standing against policies that threaten the integrity of girls’ sports and opposing any policies that allow gender reassignment treatments for minors. I believe in preserving the traditional values that our community holds dear. And these priorities are not just campaign promises. They are commitments to action. And I am determined to see them through and ensure that our beloved district and state not only grows but thrives under conservative leadership that listens and acts on behalf of its constituents.

Katy Smith:
Thank you. We have a little bit of time left. Is there anything else you’d like listeners to know?

Tramaine Booker:
Yeah, and I think it’s worth repeating. I’m a political outsider. I’m a newcomer. I’m a common sense conservative reformer who will go to Columbia to get things done for District 18. I’m going to champion bold reforms and serve as a unifying force for our conservative values. I’m not a career politician. I’m a citizen who believes in action, and I am ready to take this step to ensure the community’s future is bright as it’s people.

Katy Smith:
Well, Tremaine, thanks so much for joining us. And thanks so much for your willingness to serve the people of our state.

Tramaine Booker:
Yeah, thank you for having me.

Katy Smith:
Next up is Alan Morgan. I’m so glad to be joined by Alan Morgan, who’s running for re-election for the South Carolina House of Representatives, District 18. Thanks so much for joining me, Alan.

Alan Morgan:
Yeah, glad to be here. Thank you.

Katy Smith:
Tell us about yourself and why you’re running for re-election.

Alan Morgan:
Yeah. So, uh, as you said, my name’s Alan Morgan. I decided to run for the state house because my brother, Adam Morgan, was serving over in Taylor’s. He represents Taylor’s East side of Greenville. And he had kind of told me what was going on in Columbia. We have a legislature in Columbia that is Republican. It’s Republican-controlled, but the voting records don’t always match with what the makeup of the body is.

Alan Morgan:
So the best way to say that is if you look at several of the different metric rating systems for our state government, we consistently have one of the most purple legislatures. That’s kind of a blend of blue and red, as we call it. The records tend to skew more towards the middle. But if you look at the makeup of the legislators, the makeup of the districts, and the makeup of the voting population in South Carolina, we have one of the most conservative voting populations in the nation. So Adam went down there about six years ago, and he started serving. And he looked around and said, you know, I think I went around and knocked on doors, I talked to people about what I was going to run for, why I wanted to serve in the legislature. And people told him consistently, hey, we want somebody who’s going to go down there and do what they say they’re going to do.

Alan Morgan:
We make a lot of campaign promises. We go around and Adam knocked on 4,000 doors his first time around. I knocked on 3,000 doors when I decided to run. And we talk to people and we make promises about what we’re going to do once we get elected. And when you do that, when you talk to voters, when you tell people, hey, this is what I’m going to do when I’m elected. This is what I’m going to hold to. It does something to you. It’s hard to look somebody in the face, shake their hand and say, I’m going to do this and then go down to Columbia and do something different. So he said when he got elected, that was his goal. Stick to the Republican platform, stick to what he told his voters he was going to do, and basically be the same person once elected that he was before he got elected. And so he encouraged me to run as well once my representative retired for health reasons back in 2022. So I came in in a special election. And that was my goal as well from day one of running for office, going around knocking on 3000 doors, talking to people. And then once I got in office, I will tell you exactly what I’m going to do. I’m not going to make bones about it. I’m not going to try to dissuade you or tell you something different. I will tell you what I will do. I will vote the way I say I’m going to vote. And for me, that is following the Republican Party platform and being as conservative as I can be.

Katy Smith:
Thank you. What do you believe are the biggest issues facing our state?

Alan Morgan:
Oh, we’ve got a ton, sadly. And part of that goes back to we have a culture that’s kind of been left over from a lot of mistakes made in the past. And we’re talking going back into even reconstruction, post-reconstruction, into the civil rights era, South Carolina did not have a good record in that area. Lots of that, we are left today with the lingering effects of what has come from a lot of those bad policy decisions. So, for example, we have one of the highest tax burden rates in the Southeast, in South Carolina, far and above what most conservative states are at as far as tax burden goes. We have a crumbling road system. Our infrastructure is really, really struggling. A lot of that goes back to policies that were decided upon back in the 1950s, ’60s, and ‘70s when the state of South Carolina decided that the majority of our roads needed to be state-owned roads in order to get more money from the federal government. So South Carolina has one of the highest percentage wise state owned roads network system in the country. And that’s a problem. The state simply cannot keep up with the demand to make sure that our roads are properly functioning, that our bridges are taken care of and functioning properly. So we’ve got to, we’ve got to solve those problems.

Alan Morgan:
Education. South Carolina is consistently ranked in the bottom of education. We’ve come up a little bit, and kudos to some of the people in leadership at the state. One area I can give them kudos on the last seven or eight years or so is we’ve started to make some changes there. We’ve increased teacher pay.

Alan Morgan:
We’ve reduced some of the burden of teachers in the classroom. But there’s a lot more to do. We have to increase our, our education levels. We can not consistently be ranked in the bottom five of the country like we have been in the past. So there’s a lot of areas to look at. A pension system is one, our pension system is incredibly underfunded. It’s a looming crisis. We’ve got to figure out how to fund that. There are a lot of potential pitfalls in front of us. But at the same time, South Carolina’s future is bright. It is when I look around and I see what’s before us. I mean, the I-85 corridor here in the upstate, our port system down in Charleston and our inland port up here, our rail system, just the advantages that we have from a business perspective. The fact that we’re a right-to-work state leads to a lot of industry coming here. South Carolina is poised to become one of the leaders of the 50 United States as we move forward into this century.

Alan Morgan:
And so when I look around and see that, that brings me hope. I know our people are conservative. I know our people are ready to get to work and ready to take us to that next level. And so if we as legislators can hold to what we say we’re going to do when we’re elected, we get in there, we enact conservative policy, we cut taxes, we reduce spending, we put more money into the pocket of our people, we free up business to do business, cut government regulation, and allow our economy to really flourish, fix education, fix our road systems. South Carolina has a fantastic future ahead of us.

Katy Smith:
Thank you. What would be your priorities if re-elected?

Alan Morgan:
Number one priority is attempting to fix DOT. And that is a massive undertaking. It’s one that a lot of people have run on in the past and attempted to tackle. And it’s going to be a very, very difficult thing to do. But the way we start that is, first and foremost, we have to have someone that is accountable for running DOT. The way it works right now, we have a board that gets together.

Alan Morgan:
They’re picked by different, some by the legislature, some by the governor, some by different areas. And there’s not one person that’s really accountable for how DOT is being structured. I would like to make it a governor appointed position. I think that’s the best way to handle it. If you look at the states that have a DOT commissioner that’s appointed by the governor, they have some of the best-run road systems in the nation. I filed a bill along those lines. It didn’t get a hearing sadly, but hopefully next cycle if I’m reelected. We’ve had some other proposals from other members. One is to make the Lieutenant governor, the commissioner of DOT. I think that’s a great proposal as well. So number one, making sure that we have accountability at DOT, but number two, we got to fix that problem with the percentage of roads that are state-owned roads. That’s a tough problem to tackle. I think the easiest way to do it is probably to come up with some sort of system for sending some of those roads back to counties, back to local municipalities, along with some sort of state funding, maybe a rider in the budget for five years or so to continue funding them until the transfer is complete. You can’t just drop the roads in the, in the counties and cities when they’ve never had to pay for them before. That’s, that’s not, that’s not going to solve the problem. But if we give them some sort of, you know, transition period where we’re still funding those to allow them to take on that burden. Local control is what’s going to fix a lot of those problems with the roads. So that’s a huge area that needs fixing. Obviously the pension system, incredibly underfunded. That’s an area we’ve had some proposals from the, I think it was $1.8 billion that we found, found money in South Carolina. If you hadn’t heard about that, go look up some news articles. It’s, it’s pretty interesting. But we found, I think it was $1.8 billion that nobody really knows where it goes. So one of the proposals is to take that and put it towards the pension system. I think that’s a great idea. If we’re not going to do that, I want to send it back to the taxpayers. Either one of those I think is a good strategy. But we have a lot of these issues that need solving. And so I’m going to roll my sleeves up and do my best to fix some of these problems here in South Carolina.

Katy Smith:
Well, thank you so much for joining us. And thank you so much for your willingness to continue to serve.

Alan Morgan:
Absolutely. Thank you.

Catherine Puckett: Simple Civics: Greenville County is a project of Greater Good Greenville. Greater Good Greenville was catalyzed by the merger of the Nonprofit Alliance and the Greenville Partnership for Philanthropy. You can learn more on our website at greatergoodgreenville.org. This is a production of Podcast Studio X.

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