District 19 – 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 Patrick Haddon and Nate Marcionette, candidates for South Carolina House of Representatives District 19, generally representing Berea and Western Greenville County. 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:

Patrick Haddon: https://www.facebook.com/HaddonforHouse/

Nate Marcionette: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=61557948426258

Sample Ballot: www.scvotes.gov

Transcript

Katy Smith:
On Tuesday, June 11th, South Carolina holds its statewide 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 Patrick Haddon and Nate Marcionette, who are running for South Carolina House District 19, which generally covers Berea and Western Greenville County. 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. 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.

Katy Smith:
We did an episode that explains how this works, and we’ll link it in the show notes for you. District 19 had only Republican candidates file, so based on the outcome of the June 11th Republican primary, either Patrick Haddon or Nate Marcionette 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 incumbent Patrick Haddon. I’m pleased to be with Patrick Haddon, who is running for re-election for South Carolina House of Representatives District 19. Patrick, thanks so much for joining us today.

Patrick B. Haddon:
Thank you for having me. It’s such a pleasure.

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

Patrick B. Haddon:
Well, I have lived in the district for 24 years now. Love the district. Great people. Great area of Greenville. It is growing by leaps and bounds. I think everybody will recognize that and know that’s the truth. Just a wonderful place to live. I have a small farm right there in the district. I’m a seventh-generation farmer. And so ag is typically my focus, school nutrition. And I have come across some vast problems and issues that we have with both in South Carolina that will vastly affect the constituents of my district because we are we’re highly populated and we don’t have a lot of farms in our district, obviously. So those things around the state really matter to me and they really matter to my constituency.

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

Patrick B. Haddon:
Well, probably the biggest right now is it’s what I’m hearing from my constituency is we’ve got a problem with immigration. And we did an immigration study committee, not a study committee, but a task force through the attorney general’s office. So hopefully that will tamp down on that in the state of South Carolina. Law enforcement, teacher recruitment, recruitment.

Patrick B. Haddon:
And obviously, the big one is infrastructure. We seem to get ahead of ourselves with building homes and such as that, but we don’t typically put in infrastructure ahead of time. And so we’re talking about roads and bridges. So this year we put in $200 million into the budget for added cost that we know that we’ve got to incur this year for bridges. We know that a lot of our bridges are, to say it nicely, are not up to par.

Patrick B. Haddon:
And so this year, the legislature decided to put in $200 million on the House side, and hopefully that will spur a lot of improvement. However, I want people to understand that we’ve got a lot of money in our funding mechanism for roads and bridges. However, there’s only so many contractors that do the work. So while we are taking that money in, there’s not a lot of money going out because we just don’t have enough contractors to do that type of work because we share contracts between Georgia and North Carolina. And so but one of the things I proposed two or three years ago was to stop the gas tax and let us spend down what we’ve already got with contractors that we do have. And then if it’s necessary to bring that back at that point, then we can look at that.

Patrick B. Haddon:
I didn’t make too much headway in Columbia a couple of years ago when I tried that, but maybe that’s something we can look at here in the next couple, you know, come back in December and try that again.

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

Patrick B. Haddon:
Well, I served on a study committee, chaired a study committee last summer on school nutrition. And what I found was we have a we have a big problem, almost an epidemic of obesity in our middle school age children. And so what we’re looking at this coming this summer, the break that we’re on is how to tackle that. We know that between and from middle from elementary to middle school, it jumps from 18 percent to 45 percent obesity. And so I’m working with a couple of senators this offseason to look at how do we combat that obesity rate, whether it be better food across the state, better nutrition, better recess, better physical education programs, because we’ve got to get that down. Because if you think about it, those children in 15 years, what that’s going to cost the state and more importantly, what that’s going to do on their lives and the quality of life they’re going to have. So and that’s that’s Greenville County, too. However, Greenville County has a wonderful school program, nutrition program.

Patrick B. Haddon:
They have just knocked it out of the park. So what we’re going to try to do is use Greenville as a sort of a pattern. We’re going to try to emulate Greenville County around the state because there’s so many people around the state that are lacking when it comes to school nutrition and programs that have that healthy take to it. So for me, a priority for me is to have healthier children. And we can look at obviously law enforcement first responders, SROs. But for me, the focus that I have in the state is those children and school nutrition and also the agricultural community of South Carolina, because a state that can’t feed itself is in trouble. And so it worries me that we are losing so much farmland. Now, take away, you know, obviously, Greenville County is different because the northern part and southern part of Greenville County has a lot of ag. It’s going away quick. But we have got to be able to save that land, save that farmland. And so I’m a big proponent of conservation. And so I would I would say my priorities, if I go back, will continue to be what I’ve what I’ve been doing is fight for children and better health and education, physical education, and also trying to protect as much ground agriculture land as we can to protect our food sustainability going forward.

Katy Smith:
Thank you. We have a little bit more time. Is there anything else you’d like to share with listeners?

Patrick B. Haddon:
Well, I’d like to tell them that if they want to reach out to me directly, they can reach me at 864-320-1946. That’s 864-320-1946. Or they could email me at PatrickHaddon@schouse.gov. PatrickHaddon@schouse.gov. And if they have any problems with any state agencies or anything, I’d love to be able to pitch in and help them where I can.

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

Patrick B. Haddon:
Well, thank you so much for having me.

Katy Smith:
Next up is Nate Marcionette. Well, I’m pleased to be joined today by Nate Marcionette, who is running for House District 19. Thanks so much for joining us, Nate.

Nate Marcionette:
Thank you so much for having me.

Katy Smith:
Well, Nate, tell us about yourself and why you’re running for office.

Nate Marcionette:
Okay. Well, you know, I’ve been sitting on the sidelines for a very long time. And I decided to get involved because I’m tired of the polarization and divisiveness in our county, state, and country. We need to get back to sitting around the kitchen table and talking about issues. We’ve gotten away from that. I’ve been in sales all my life in one form or another, except for the last three years, which I’ve been a manager at the Carolina Drive-In on Rutherford Street, downtown, across from Lewis Barbecue and QT’s. Carolina has been owned by the Skenteris family since 1954. Nick Skenteris, the current owner, was my roommate at Wofford College. And so I’m a graduate of Wofford College. And, you know, I wanted to start small. You know Statehouse was not my original ambition I wanted to start small and you know get everything together and learn things and I applied for the Greenville County School Board position… library position.

Nate Marcionette:
They had six opening slots this time. And so I put my application in. And then like a week before, we were supposed to go down and meet county council. Someone associated with Greenville County, I ran into them. And I told them what I was doing. And they said, oh, I don’t want to discourage you, but they’ve already made their picks. They’re already going to know who’s going to be in those slots. And I said, really? And they said, well, we like you. Would you like to get on another board or maybe wait another two years to try again? And I said, thank you. I’ll think about that. Yeah. So I went through the process. I went down there and there were like 70 applicants for six slots.

Nate Marcionette:
And so it was like speed dating. There’s like five or six of us per table on a county council member at each table. And we had about two minutes to say our piece on why we should be on the board. And then we moved to the next table to another member and we went all the way around until we had talked to all members. And then they told us that, OK, next week we’ll vote. All right. So I went next week, and of the six open slots, there was one person there. You think the other five knew they had already won and didn’t bother showing up? So that kind of made me pause and think. So that’s why I decided to run for state house.

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

Nate Marcionette:
Gosh, there’s a multitude of issues, but I think the top ones are our roads. I mean, I live in the San Suci community and the roads around here are very bad and they don’t make sense. You’ve got, you know, four-lane feeder roads feeding into two-lane major roads. I think that the roads should be fixed. It doesn’t matter if they’re a county or a state road. They’re a road in this county and they need to be fixed and maintained. Also too, you know, I’m speaking to my neighbors. People are very frustrated. They’re stressing out financially, and I’m talking about working-class, middle-class, professionals. My job as a legislator, I believe it’s to take that stress away from them.

Nate Marcionette:
We need more money and funding for mental health issues and drug addiction treatment. I want to crack down on the human trafficking that’s going on in the state. If I’m elected, if someone gets caught trafficking a man, woman, or a child, 25-year-to-life minimum. We need to stop this. I can go on and on and on, but, you know, oh, school choice. You know, parents should have the right to decide what’s best for their child’s education. This health care czar bill that’s been kicking around, you know, I don’t think that the constituents in my district want someone down in Columbia to tell them that they have to get a vaccine, they have to quarantine, they have to social distance, they have to stay at home, they have to keep their kids home.

Nate Marcionette:
There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. And I’m getting mailers in the mail all the time from other candidates. I want to fight for you. I want to fight for this. I want to fight for that. No one wins in a fight. When I get to Columbia, I’m going to go work for you. I’m going to work to lower your taxes. I’m going to work to improve our roads. I’m going to work to make sure you have choices. So that’s what I believe in. That’s what I think are the issues that are most important to the people in my neighborhood, my district.

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

Nate Marcionette:
I could tell you right now, the first bill I’ll propose is the sales tax reduction for people 85 years or older. Did you know that in our state, if you’re 85 years or older, you get a 1% discount in your personal tangible items? That’s like furniture, sofas, chairs, loveseats, ottomans, kitchen appliances, stoves, microwaves, dishwashers, refrigerators, communication devices, even your communication like computers, big screen TVs. 85 years old is when you get that 1%. Why do you have to wait until you’re 85? My first bill is I’m going to try and drop that to 65. When you retire. That’s when you need the money the most is when you’re in retirement. Who knows if you’re going to make it to 85? So that’s the number one bill I’m going to propose when I get there.

Katy Smith:
Thank you. We have a little bit more time. Is there anything else you’d like to share with listeners?

Nate Marcionette:
I just think that, you know, for example, I talked about earlier the divisiveness and polarization. Last week, we had a member of the House on the floor openly ridiculing and making fun of another member, putting some silly tinfoil hat on his head, calling him out. I mean, that was undignified and that’s beneath the house. You know, we shouldn’t be doing that stuff. And that’s where we’re at. And if I get down there and I hope I do, you know, I’m going to try to curb that. You know, I find solace in the words of the late Barry Goldwater, Arizona senator, ran for president. He said, we can disagree without being disagreeable. And I think we need to get back to that.

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

Nate Marcionette:
Thank you. And you have a great day. Be safe.

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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