District 7 – Meet your Candidates for South Carolina Senate

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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 Michelle Goodwin-Calwile, candidate for South Carolina Senate District 7, which generally represents Pleasant Valley, Belle Meade, West Greenville, Downtown Greenville, Nicholtown, and some of Sans Souci. 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 Karl Allen, but he did not respond to our many invitations to participate.

Links:

Michelle Goodwin-Calwile

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 candidate Michelle Goodwin-Calwile, who is running for South Carolina Senate District 7, which generally covers Pleasant Valley, Belle Meade, West Greenville, Downtown Greenville, Nicholtown, and some of Sans Souci. Karl Allen, the incumbent, has also filed to run, but he did not respond to numerous requests to participate in the podcast. 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. We did an episode that explains how this works and we’ll link it in the show notes for you. Only Democratic candidates filed to run for Senate District 7. So based on the outcome of the June 11th Democratic primary, either Carl Allen or Michelle Goodwin-Calwile 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.

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, Michelle Goodwin-Calwile. I’m pleased to be joined by Michelle Goodwin-Calwile, who is running for South Carolina Senate District 7. Thanks so much for joining us, Michelle.

Michelle Goodwin-Calwile:
You’re welcome.

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

Michelle Goodwin-Calwile:
Okay, a little bit about myself is that I am a retired educator from Greenville County Schools, And when I retired, I became a school board trustee in 2016. I’m a native of Greenville. I went to Carolina High School, a 1980 graduate, went to Winthrop College, now university. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in fashion merchandising and went to Converse College and got my first Master’s, Master of Education. And then I went to Furman University and got a Master of Arts in Educational and Administrative Leadership.

Michelle Goodwin-Calwile:
So I also have two daughters, Maya and Asia, and four grandchildren. I’m a member of Aiken Chapel Baptist Church in Taylors, South Carolina, where my pastor is Pastor Vincent Anderson. I am a life Silver Star member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated and also a member of NCNW, which is the National Council of Negro Women and a couple of other organizations that I am a member of. I am running because I love my community. I’ve been serving my community in various capacities. I attend neighborhood community meetings, school and extracurricular events. My children, I volunteer with various organizations.

Michelle Goodwin-Calwile:
I am a mentor. I have a mentee at Hughes Middle School, and that’s through Mentor Upstate. I have a love for helping solve problems and getting people to the resources they need. I see and hear the concerns of the community. I think our community has been stagnant and included in various phases of growth and development in our county. We need to have a seat at the table where decisions are made on our livelihoods. I believe that our community needs the kind of leadership that is inclusive of all people and values every person. My vision is to engage the community in caring for its neighbors, educate the community on how to advocate for themselves and being an informed voter, and energize our people to be involved in the process that affects their way of living. I think knowledge is power and we provide the tools that people need to have a successful and fulfilling future and are able to reach their full potential. I envision a state where justice, equity, and fairness are for all of our citizens and nationwide.

Michelle Goodwin-Calwile:
As a female, I’m concerned that we have very little voice on laws that are being passed that affect our autonomy to make decisions about our health. Women’s reproductive rights legislation should have the woman’s voice heard. The biggest issues facing, well, my priorities are safe schools and communities, workforce development, public education. I think that we should have our fully funded base student costs, which has never been fully funded in South Carolina. We need to have that. Affordable housing, health care policies and environmental justice and governance, and electoral reform.

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

Michelle Goodwin-Calwile:
The biggest issues facing our constituents is that a majority of Senate 7 is a food desert. Gaining access to create an environment conducive for national brand stores to locate in our area is key. And it’s been a problem with getting a national food brand to locate in particularly District 25, the food desert. Affordable housing, the homelessness problem plaguing our families where there are laws, regulations in place that cause them not to be able to get a forever home, having to raise their children in the hotels because of limited affordable, or shall I say, lower income housing. Infrastructure needs to keep up with the growth in our state. The issues that we have here in district 25, in Senate seven– I ride through the hotels and I see our kids out there playing in the parking lots. I believe that we should also have more youth activities so that we can keep our kids out of trouble.

Michelle Goodwin-Calwile:
The protecting voting rights, like maintaining absentee voting, also voting rights and reentry programs of ex-offenders, having a livable wage, expansion of Medicare, equitable funding. So these are some things that I say are some issues and when I get down there in the Senate I will make sure that they know– I don’t think some of our legislature doesn’t know what actually is happening in the communities so I want to be that voice for what our people need in the upstate.

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

Michelle Goodwin-Calwile:
Okay, my priorities. Of course, I’m an educator, so I want safe schools. We’ve got to keep our school environments conducive for learning. With the passing of the concealed, I mean, the open carry, I’m concerned with the loopholes that are in that law, whether guns can be on the school grounds. We also need– the districts need more funding from the state to provide safety precautions in the schools. We have the evolve system, but it travels from school to school. I think that each school should have that. And those machines cost a lot of money to put into the schools. If the state could fund that, that would keep our schools and our kids and our staff safe. Workforce development. We have–

Michelle Goodwin-Calwile:
In the school system, we have DACA students. I hope that the state, the legislators will look out for our investment in the state. We invest in K-12 education for all students in the public schools. But then when they graduate, they cannot apply for a license or go to a public college. And we need to look at this. We are sending our investment to other states. So we need to seriously take a look at that. Now, I mean, you know, K through 12, that’s a lot of money for 12 years of schooling. And then you send them to other states to have to get a license or go to public school.

Michelle Goodwin-Calwile:
I need for us to do, like I said, affordable housing, home ownership, and reasonable rent. Expansion of the Homestead Act protections, fund employable skills certificate programs. We have the diplomas and we have the certificate, so we need to make sure that we have full funding for that. Train and credential people for living wage jobs. To stop the ban on social media platforms because we’ve got to realize the youth are our future and we’ve got to come into the 21st century. And some of the things that are being suggested are not advancing with our technology and with our kids. We’ve got to make sure we protect the future. So those are some of my priorities for when I get to the Senate.

Katy Smith:
Well, Michelle, thank you so much for joining us. And thank you so much for your willingness to serve in the South Carolina Senate.

Michelle Goodwin-Calwile:
You’re welcome. And I will be a great senator.

Katy Smith:
Thank you so much.

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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