Editorial: Voter turnout at Forum shows Aiken County cares

October 5, 2018

If Aiken County voter turnout on Nov. 6 is anything like the turnout we received Tuesday evening at the Aiken Standard 2018 Midterm Political Forum, we are in for a good Election Day.

There was a larger-than-expected crowd at Tuesday’s forum as voters got to hear from 17 area candidates. They represented Aiken School Board, County Council, the State House and U.S. House. The night also included County Chairman Gary Bunker, who spoke on Capital Project Sales Tax IV.

It was the voter’s chance to hear from our local candidates and they did not disappoint. Each of them were asked specific questions that related to the area they either represented as incumbents, or seats they are vying for.

Question topics ranged from growth in relation to schools, the Savannah River Site and the situation for the lock and dam on the Savannah River.

Arguably the hottest topic to answer was directed at State House District 81 candidates Democrat Elise Fox and incumbent Republican Bart Blackwell when asked “How do you prevent something like the Silver Bluff Road widening debacle from happening again?”

Blackwell answered directly with “That is a disaster.” He went on to point out many of the delays were due to the relocation of utilities and offered the fact the South Carolina Department of Transportation needs to ensure the utilities are relocated first before starting the widening.

“Once you start a project, you incur an unsightly construction site,” he said. And later added, “If utilities are going to impede that process, you’re going to have a mess for a long, long time.”

Fox pointed out utility companies were notified of the project three years in advance and there should be a time limitation. If those utilities are not moved in a certain amount of time then SCDOT would have the authority to do the work and bill those utility companies for the move.

“There’s no reason you can’t move utilities in three years and there is plenty of advance notice,” she said.

Both candidates were passionate in their answers to the crowd and both demanded some sort of action.

The answer to that question appeared to be just what the voters wanted and needed to hear. And it wasn’t just that question, none of the candidates minced words when it came to questions, which, they did not know ahead of time. The questions were discussed before the event by members of the staff at the Aiken Standard and not released to any of the candidates.

We are lucky to have such quality candidates in our area, it shows for the immediate future, the representation of Aiken County will be well in hand, no matter who we vote for.

Anyone who missed the forum, can still view it by going to the Aiken Standard Facebook page to watch in its entirety.

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