District 28 – 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 Troy Prosser, Daniel Rumfelt, and Kerri Smith, candidates for South Carolina House of Representatives District 28. 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 candidates Chris Huff and Allen Kellett, but they did not respond to our many invitations to participate.

Links:

Troy Prosser

Daniel Rumfelt

Kerri Smith

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 28. If you’ve listened for a while, you know that we’ve interviewed candidates for local and some state offices since the 2022 primaries, and we’re pleased that almost all of them have participated in this primary season. This particular episode is unique as it requires a disclaimer. One of the candidates, Karrie Smith, serves on the board of Greater Good Greenville, which sponsors this podcast.

Katy Smith:
I personally contacted each candidate in this race to let them know of this circumstance when I invited them to participate and to convey the straightforward way in which the interviews are conducted and followed up several times with each. For this episode, we are joined by candidates Troy Prosser, Daniel Rumfelt, and Karrie Smith. This race, which is the Republican primary, also features candidates Chris Huff and Allen Kellett, but they did not respond to my 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, taxes, abortion, and guns, our county sheriff, and our county council, which considers issues such as zoning, roads, public safety, and more.

Katy Smith:
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. House District 28 had only Republican candidates file. So based on the outcome of the June 11th Republican primary, either Chris Huff, Allen Kellett, Troy Prosser, Daniel Rumfelt, or Karrie Smith 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.

Katy Smith:
First up alphabetically is Troy Prosser. Well, I’m so pleased to be joined today by Troy Prosser, who is running for South Carolina House District 28. Troy, thanks for being with us.

Troy Prosser:
Thank you for having me.

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

Troy Prosser:
So I live in the upstate. I’ve been back in the upstate since about 2016. Over the last few years, my life has changed drastically. My wife and I bought a farm.

Troy Prosser:
But most recently, I was part of the Canebrake Fire District Board of Commissions. And as a commissioner, let me back up and say I was appointed as a commissioner mainly because I spoke out. I spoke out and wanted to address some issues that I saw in the community, especially as it related to fire and the overall services and safety of the citizens here in District 28, or at least the southern part of it. In doing so, there were some other issues, for example, road closure, bridge closure that cut off half the district, which really made me start getting into understanding where the county line is and where the state line is as far as who takes responsibility for certain things. And found that there’s a lot of finger-pointing and there’s a lot of just not wanting to really do anything to truly protect the citizens. So last year, we’re really lucky that we’ve had a representative over the last seven years that’s been pretty amazing. And I had a lot of conversations with her, and that’s Ashley Trantham. And in those conversations came up that she may or may not run again this year.

Troy Prosser:
So I told her if she ran, I would fully support her, stand behind her. But if she didn’t run, I was jumping in a race.

Troy Prosser:
I am married. I’m a Christian. I am married to my high school sweetheart. Although we had a gap in our life of not being together, we were lucky enough to get back together 28 years later. Together, we have seven kids. I’m a businessman. I work for a very large corporation. Plus, we bought a farm five years ago now. The farm is really what’s changed my life for the better. I am running as purely the simple man, I guess you would call it, not picked by any group. I wasn’t recruited by any group. I’m the guy that said, hey, I want to step up and do this because I want representation of the people by the people. So it’s been an interesting task being a novice in the political world.

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

Troy Prosser:
Well, what I thought were the bigger, biggest issues kind of fell in line with, you know, as I’ve been going around knocking on doors, I think of a few thousand doors in now and, you know, just continue to knock on doors because I think it’s really important to understand from the constituents directly what it is that’s affecting them. So one of the biggest things that I’ve heard, and I think it’s probably top on everybody’s mind, is our roads, followed by we want more choices for schools. And then the big thing that’s come up lately is, hey, what’s going on with this czar bill or this medical freedom bill that’s out there?

Troy Prosser:
And just to kind of go back, you know, the roads are an interesting topic. I think a lot of times everybody wants to just blame DOT and say, hey, you haven’t done anything. But I think you have to go a little bit deeper than that. When you go back and you look at our roads, it’s everything from labor shortages, material shortages that have all happened over the last many years. And then there’s the… most certainly DOT can do better. School choice is a big topic. By opening up our farm, we saw that, especially during the COVID time, that we got a lot of homeschools and a lot of private schools that wanted to come out and do tours and educational trips out on the farm. And it really made me think, because our boys are in public schools, what’s really the difference? And then you start seeing this e-learning stuff, and the kids are done with school in an hour and a half. And, you know, for me, there’s plenty more education to do out on the farm. So it’s time to go boys. But it really hit home with me that there is a need for parents to have a choice in how they invest in their children’s education and maybe public schools isn’t the best. And I think, you know, for a long time, we’ve tried to take those decisions away from parents. And ultimately, it should be the parents that know what’s best for their children.

Troy Prosser:
You know, one of the topics that comes up out here, especially as a rural way of living, we have a very rural area out here. Obviously, we have a farm, but we watch every day as these areas are getting paved over or just bulldozed down. It’s going to create a problem. We hear about all these issues overseas right now of potential food shortages. What does that look like if we have another pandemic? What does that look like if we have a… just a breakdown in our logistical system even in our country? You know the USDA says that local food is a radius of 400 miles. If you think about that from Greenville, that is all the way up to Philadelphia. That’s a long ways for local food. I think that the state really needs to think about how are we supporting our local farmers? I mean, the industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. There’s almost 300,000 jobs that is in the AG industry here. We really need to kind of take a focus on not only the big farmers but the little farmers as well.

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

Troy Prosser:
I think the first priority is to get some common sense into our state government. I know that’s an easy word to use, but I’ll go back to the education piece. When our boys were home during COVID, getting an hour and a half of schooling, we had them working on the farm. And I use this analogy in several other forums, but it really struck me when we were building a chicken coop and I had the boys doing all kinds of work. And at the end of the day, mom said she wanted rocks to outline a dust bath area for the chickens. And I chuckled over it, sent the boys off to get rocks. And they said, how many rocks do I need? I said, I don’t know, 12, 15. Measure the rocks that are there and figure it out. They did. They came back with one, and it hit me that common sense comes through application. We can’t teach common sense, but we can teach application. And I don’t think we’re applying the conservative values that we have talked about in our state house.

Troy Prosser:
But why do they have to be conservative values? Aren’t they just values? And then we’re adding another name to it? So I think for me, the first thing is to make sure that we are passing some of the common sense laws that are sitting out there. There’s common sense laws that… or common sense bills, I should say, that are sitting collecting dust that should easily be passed. Not sure why, you know, what’s holding them up. That’s something that obviously once I get into the state house, I would have to dig into. But it’s pretty simple. Let’s focus on the common sense laws. Let’s focus on actually spending time on bills that make sense versus bills that are just spending tax dollars.

Troy Prosser:
So that’s where we would start. From there… I mean, we have to go to those other priorities that the constituents have brought up, the roads, the taxes, getting rid of, eliminating some of these taxes out there that just don’t make sense. We’ve been paying a gas tax for seven years, and you see all these citizens saying, but what’s happening with it? Do we look at eliminating or rolling back that gas tax? We’ve got counties right now that are wanting to impose penny taxes or 1% taxes. They’re calling it penny taxes. The reality is we need to take a harder focus on how to get things done rather than just spinning our wheels and making it seem like we’re getting something done. I’m a doer. I’m not really a talker.

Katy Smith:
Thank you so much. Well, I appreciate you joining us today and appreciate your willingness to serve the people of South Carolina.

Troy Prosser:
Thank you. I appreciate being here. And I just hope that the constituents in District 28 hear what I have to say, know that I’m listening to them, and know that I want to be the rep that actually becomes accessible to them and fills them in with what’s going on in the statehouse. And I just ask everyone to vote for me June 11th. Vote for Troy.

Katy Smith:
Thank you, Troy.

Troy Prosser:
Thank you.

Katy Smith:
Next up is Daniel Rumfelt. I’m pleased to be here with Daniel Rumfelt, who is running for South Carolina House District 28. Thanks so much for joining me.

Daniel Rumfelt:
Thank you. I appreciate the invite.

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

Daniel Rumfelt:
Well, I was born over in Lawrence, South Carolina. I graduated from Lighthouse Christian Academy. I have a younger brother named Matthew and two nephews. I am married to my beautiful wife named Casey, and we are both from Lawrence. We have three children, two boys named Nolan and Connor, and our youngest named Savannah. We moved to this district, or in Pelzer area, around 11 years ago. She wanted a home where Chick-fil-A could deliver to our house a little, and I wanted a home next to a lake. So we compromised and found a nice home to start our family in this area. This year, I will graduate from GCU, where I’m finishing up a few courses for my software development degree. Now, I guess you asked me why I was running. And in my generation, young adults to the early 40s has a picture that has been painted by the media of social media of what a conservative is. We’re either heartless, radical or privileged or etc. But that’s far from the truth. But this generation, my generation, requires something more from conservatives. And that’s their voice.

Daniel Rumfelt:
Why is it so bad that I am proud to be an American? Why am I bad because I believe in the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms? And I believe that the best way to combat violent crime is with arms. Am I heartless for wanting a savings account to make every dollar is well spent. You know, Barry Goldwater and Eisenhower did not believe in social conservatism because we would get to the point where we’re at now in society. We want our voice on law in November. We want big issues to be decided by the public. We want our say on state income tax. And I want to build, with the help of my fellow Republicans, a taxpayer’s bill of rights here in South Carolina. I want to lower our corporate tax, which is at 5%, which is the highest around the southeast. I feel like this will help attract national and global businesses to our state instead of using tax incentives as our only lure. I want to support the farmers, Fork Shoals, and [inaudible] in the Dunklin area in southern Greenville. We have some of the best farmlands in the state. The farmers in southern Greenville. We have some of the– 

Daniel Rumfelt:
Finally, when local development goes unchecked, everyone loses. I’ll collaborate closely with SCDOT, local governments, and school districts to plan building positive relationships in Columbia to get our district the attention it needs. With high-speed internet, natural gas, bridges, local law enforcement, support with the training academy to understand why there is so many unsuccessful students.

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

Daniel Rumfelt:
Right now, labor shortage. I work at ZF Transmission in Gray Court, but I cannot speak with all the manufacturing in the area. But the lack of skilled tradesmen is extremely low. You will be surprised how many new hires cannot compute basic mathematics, which leads to the other problem. Education. We were not prepared for a little under a year of school shutdown a few years ago. It has hurt many of our students in the school system. This has thrown many students, especially fourth graders, out of the standard curriculum, which is the state uses. We really need to evaluate the state curriculum. And parents choice– parent’s choice is the primary reason I’m running for the education or change. A parent knows what’s best for their child. Inflation is also another issues. Prices are up 75% from four years ago. And finally, infrastructure. I mentioned this last because looking at the entire state is not as severe as Greenville County is. I want to go to Columbia and fight for our fair share.

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

Daniel Rumfelt:
Well, I am fully committed to supporting a provision to remove the earnings limitation for retirees returning to work as instructors at the Fire Academy. I will also continue to support Representative Trantham’s proposed House Bill 4534, First Responders Spouse Tax Exemption. The goal is to provide surviving spouses of first responders in South Carolina with tax exemptions. I would also like to work with the farmers of South Carolina, including my area farmers, to develop a way to reduce the deer herd issue from the urban sprawl. A few of the farmers I have spoke to have had wild hogs in their crops, and I want to help with the legislation related to this log.

Daniel Rumfelt:
I also want to solve the safety issue at Neely Ferry Road and North Harrison Bridge Road in Simpsonville. The Sadler’s Ridge subdivision and Neely Farms has had major car accidents here. There were a study conducted by Greenville County to come up with a solution, which was a roundabout. And I want to continue to make that intersection safe again. To bring attention to the DOT about the Magma Hand Road, those folks living around that area have had a 5-10 minute increase to their commute because of detours. There has been no bridge crossing at the railroad, and it has been deemed unsafe and has been removed but not replaced. In revivingoldOld Bill No. H-3133 from the 2021-2022 session, which Representative May introduced as a South Carolina Economic Development Tax Incentive Evaluation Act, it is to mandate that the Department of Revenue conduct an assessment every two years to determine the efforts and the effects of economic development tax incentives, considering both the financial and economic costs, this legislation has been lingering in the Ways and Means Committee, and I would like to bring it back.

Daniel Rumfelt:
We must ascertain whether the community profits from our investments of tax incentives and whether or not tax money is being well used. I would like to gather support and implement harsher penalties towards those that digitally scam others in this state. This can be from fake sport tickets purchased online to phone and internet scams.

Daniel Rumfelt:
I would also like to see closed primaries and would like to implement voter data assurance oversight. And I guess finally, I would like to build relationships in Columbia so that I may bring attention to my constituents’ needs in my area and to serve the best way that I can.

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

Daniel Rumfelt:
Yes. So I’m not your typical politician. Actually, I’m not a politician at all. I’m just like your neighbor. I’m 35 years old. I’m a blue collar guy, at ZF Transmission. And I’m asking for your support. I’m not doing this for the money. I’m not doing this for the fame. I’m doing this because I care about our community. And I don’t like how things have been heading. I want to help community, my constituents around here, with the things that matter most to them. And I invite you to follow me on Facebook. I invite you to visit my website at www.danielrumfeltfor28.com. And I really ask for your support on June 11th in the Republican primary.

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

Daniel Rumfelt:
Thank you for having me.

Katy Smith:
And finally, Kerri Smith. I’m pleased to be here today with Karri Smith, who is a candidate for South Carolina House District 28. Kerri, thanks so much for joining us.

Kerri Smith:
Well, thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.

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

Kerri Smith:
Well, my name is Kerri Smith, and I’ve been in the credit union movement for 37 years. And the majority of that work has been in community economic development. So my background is really working across board tables and helping key leaders find common ground and identify solutions, and especially around growth for the organizations and figuring out a strategic way to grow those organizations that really meets the needs of key stakeholders.

Kerri Smith:
So that’s the experience that I want to take to the South Carolina House. And running for office was never my intention. I never thought about running, but have worked over the years helping to inform and work with legislators on a variety of issues that face our citizens. So it seemed at this moment, after the last session, and kind of watching what was going on at the State House, and my inclination is never to take my ball and go home. I am very much a collaborator, and really trying to work hard to get real solutions done in a way that’s productive for everyone.

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

Kerri Smith:
Well, thank you for asking that question, because as I’m out knocking on doors and meeting with voters, the biggest things that come up is around our infrastructure in roads in particular, and where folks just, you know, we’ve raised our gas tax, our legislature year after year funnels and puts more money into roads. But it seems like there isn’t much in the solutions and actually seeing the work being done, especially on our ancillary roads. And that is creating a lot of anxiety and frustration for our citizens.

Kerri Smith:
The second issue that I’ve heard a lot about is immigration and how that is impacting our law enforcement, especially around fentanyl. And also mental health and how our law enforcement are challenged. And I think that the resources that are needed have not always been addressed. And so as a citizen, as a resident of District 28, we’re in the lower part of the county. And there are times when it takes a deputy, you know, 30, 45 minutes or more to get to our district to be there for our citizens. So those are two of the big ones. And the third major issue that I’ve seen and heard from were dealing with education and parents wanting to be able to choose the best educational solution for their child. And I believe that, you know, South Carolina, we fall pretty low in across the U.S. We fight for the bottom about education, educating our children. So I would like to focus on how we can get our students, their reading comprehension levels up, you know, math, all the things that they need to be successful in life. And I think we have some work to do there in this state.

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

Kerri Smith:
It would definitely be issues that will help to build thriving communities in South Carolina. Transportation is a huge issue. We know that folks are having a hard time getting to better paying jobs. Our small businesses, right now there’s a crisis, especially in venues, our small music venues and restaurants, where the legislature in 2017 passed a law, and that increased coverage has ended up with only about three insurers left in the state. And so many of our small businesses are dying. And that’s the backbone of our economy. And so we need to make sure that we are definitely looking out for our small businesses, just like we do for our major employers in the state.

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

Kerri Smith:
Yes. There’s a couple of things. I really, in doing this work and out talking to voters, I’ve learned that most voters are really, they want to be engaged. They want to be informed. And venues and opportunities like this is so important. it. And I think that I really appreciate organizations like this that’ll take the time to help voters to be informed on the issues and on the candidates. Because with all of these issues, it can’t be just the government solves it. And my background ground is collaboration with nonprofits, with the faith community, and other businesses to really meet needs. And I think that that collaborative approach is how we’re going to really move South Carolina forward, not just for next year, but well into the future. And so whether it’s infrastructure, whether it’s education, whether it’s pay and resources for law enforcement, I think that we have to take a more collaborative approach so that everyone in South Carolina has the opportunity to thrive.

Katy Smith:
Thank you so much for participating today, Kerri, and thank you for raising your hand to serve.

Kerri Smith:
Thank you all. 

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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