District 22 – 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 Paul Wickensimer, candidate for South Carolina House of Representatives District 22. 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. This race also features candidate Stan Tzouvelekas, but he did not respond to our many invitations to participate.

Links:

Paul Wickensimer

Sample Ballot

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. On this episode, we feature South Carolina House District 22 candidate Paul Wickensimer. This race, which is the Republican primary, also features candidate Stan Tzouvelekas, but he did not respond to our many invitations to participate. 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.

Katy Smith:
Taxes, abortion, and guns, our county sheriff, and our county council, which considers issues such 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. We did an episode that explains how this works, and we’ll link it in the show notes for you. Based on the outcome of the June 11th Republican primary, either Stan Tzouvelekas or Paul Wickensimer will go on to face Democrat Brann Fowler on the November ballot. After the primary, we will invite Brann and the winner of this primary in for an interview for the general election. 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.

Katy Smith:
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.

Katy Smith:
And now, Paul Wickensimer. Well, I’m pleased to be joined today by Paul Wickensimer, who’s running for South Carolina House District 22. Thanks so much for joining us, Paul.

Paul Wickensimer:
Great. Thank you for having me.

Katy Smith:
Thank you. Tell us about yourself and why you’re running for this office.

Paul Wickensimer:
Well, I had a career with Bell South or AT&T and was a former member of Greenville County Council. I served as chair of each of the standing committees there while I was on council. Also was the vice chairman and chairman of council during my time there. And after that, I served a number of years as Greenville County Clerk of Court, as well as serving on a number of nonprofit boards. So I feel very blessed with the experience that I’ve had working in the community over the years. But why I’m running, I really believe I can make a difference. I think our state has many needs, and I believe that I can use the skill sets that I have to build relationships and get things done. I’ve worked behind the scenes on projects such as the Peace Center, the Children’s Museum, the Hughes Main Library, the Branch Libraries in Greenville, and other projects over the years. So I’m willing to roll up my sleeves and do what needs to be done. And certainly, it’s not necessary for me to take credit, but in working with people to try to reach common goals and to find a solution to issues. That’s something that I enjoy and I believe I could take with me to Columbia if given the opportunity.

Katy Smith:
Thank you. What do you believe are the biggest issues facing the constituents of District 22 and the state?

Paul Wickensimer:
I would say that growth is probably one that’s on the forefront.

Paul Wickensimer:
I hear about improving roads, sewer, water, and these are so important to our community, especially with the growth that we’ve experienced over the years. I think people have noticed that to get from point A to point B takes a lot longer than it did. The condition of the roads, seeing the potholes and seeing the condition of the roads, as I say, is really important, and I hope that something could be done about that. I hear about transparency, too.

Paul Wickensimer:
Folks want to know more about what their state government is doing. We hear about monies that are being found in accounts, and people don’t have answers to that. These are things that I would want to get to the bottom of and that I would want to work to try to find answers to the questions that people have when it comes to issues such as that. And believe it or not, too, a lot of folks are concerned about immigration. I know that’s a national issue. That’s something that we hear about in Congress, but it does impact our state, and it impacts our schools, it impacts our jobs, and people want to know whether it be safety issues there. They want to know how we’re going to deal with immigration. And that’s a hot topic. Of course, safety is a concern too, and working with law enforcement and as well as protecting our rights and our freedoms, people bring that up in the course of conversation too.

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

Paul Wickensimer:
One thing that I’m interested in is continuing to reduce the state income tax. The General Assembly has been doing that the last few years, is continuing to lower the state income tax. And I’d like to see that continue. Of course, I’ve touched on this already as far as the roads go. I’d like to see more money allocated to Greenville County and the upstate to take care of these road and infrastructure needs. In education… I follow that quite closely over the years. That’s something that I want to continue to see us make progress in. It’s so important for the young people today to receive a good education and be equipped and have the skill sets that are necessary to live and to make a living. That’s on my mind. And I touched on this already, too, that if given the opportunity to serve in Columbia. I think it’s important to build relationships with people.

Paul Wickensimer:
There’s just so much that can be done if we work together. There’s 124 people in the State House. There’s 46 members of the state senate. And I learned from my days on county council that it’s so important to have relationships with people. That’s the way you get things done. I can have the greatest ideas in the whole world. But if I cannot team up with my colleagues and find common ground and find support for those issues that are on my mind, I can accomplish very little. So I’m really gonna work hard to kind of get the lay of the land, to talk to some people that have been there over the years that have been successful, and work with my colleagues, as I say, to build relationships with them so I can accomplish some of the goals that I think are important to the people. In our district, as well as the people of South Carolina.

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

Paul Wickensimer:
Well, I feel very blessed to be considered for this position. When I retired as clerk of court for the county, I really thought my political career was finished. And when this opportunity came along, it’s an open seat in the statehouse. I felt like I should offer myself to see if the people of the district would want me to represent them. And I’ve just been so blessed over the years in our community as we all have. Greenville is such a good place. And there’s so many good people that have worked hard in our local government, our state government, and in our national government. And I thought, you know, if I could use my skill sets, as I say, to go to Columbia to make a difference there, I think that would be worth the effort. That would be worth coming out of retirement to do.

Paul Wickensimer:
I’m not looking for a title. Still, I feel like if I could be the adult in the room and work with people, roll up my sleeves and help find answers to some of the pressing questions that we have in Columbia, that it would be worthwhile. So that’s why I’m excited about the opportunity. That’s why I’m going out meeting with as many people as I can to try to build support for the race that I’m involved in. And if I’m elected, I’ll certainly do my very best to represent the people of this district and this state to the best of my ability.

Katy Smith:
Thank you so much, Paul, for your willingness to serve. And thank you so much for joining us today.

Paul Wickensimer:
Thank you, Katy. It was my pleasure. 

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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