Steven Smith is not afraid to keep trying until he succeeds.
Smith's first race as a Republican resulted in a defeat against S.C. House District 109’s Democratic incumbent David Mack in 2008. He’s now set his sights on Berkeley County’s District 15’s Republican incumbent Samuel Rivers' position. Mr. Smith is an employee at Verizon Wireless, and has a wife and four children.
Contributor Lorena Jordan spoke with Mr. Smith ahead of the June 14th primary to learn more about his views on life and current affairs.
Lorena Jordan (LJ): Tell us about you. What makes you qualified to hold this position at this critical point in Charleston and South Carolina’s history?
Stephen Smith (SS): I am just like everyone else. I current work within the corporate financing section for Verizon Wireless in North Charleston. I have a family of 4 children. I am not a career politician; my positions and beliefs are rooted from having lived life as an everyday person wanting to make the best for myself and family. I would classify myself as a principled conservative, which is what our district and state need. I believe in a free market, personal liberties, and limited government. We need a principled person stand up for the working man. One who will not be bought by interests, but who will fight the lobbyists and special interests.
LJ: What inspired your initial, and continuing interest, in holding political office?
SS: My passion for our state. We possess a unique and beautiful history and heritage. I believe strongly in fighting for what I believe, which is winning my seat, because I am tired of the cronyism in SC politics. I believe that if something is a concern to you do something! It’s hard running against an incumbent candidate, but it is a challenge I look forward to succeeding in, because there needs to be change within the current legislature makeup.
LJ: What do you feel is the greatest issue to address within your district? Within the state as a whole?
SS: Infrastructure reform. We need to do something with roads and we know it. The Department Of Transportation(DOT) Commission needs to be drastically reformed, which really means it needs to be abolished. We need our Governor to appoint a DOT Secretary and they in turn will be responsible for the maintaining of our roads, not the DOT which is appointed by lawmakers. In addition, we need to review contracts being sent to the DOT Commission to make sure all transactions being handled there are essential and need to be done. We should not be incentivizing contracts as we currently do. For example, I met a guy who works for a company selling auto parts and they have a DOT contract for brake pads/shoes. He told me that when he spoke with the DOT Commission the representative informed him his items weren’t needed at the time, but that they needed to be taken anyway to keep a contract going. This should end immediately.
LJ: Which political figure has most influenced your beliefs and views on issues?
SS: Ronald Reagan. He talked a lot about smaller limited government and was right every time. In one of his televised speeches he likened the US to a car and us citizens as its drivers. Drivers always determine how and where the car goes. That should always be remembered, that people should be determining government, instead of government controlling all aspects of our lives. We should remember the idea expressed by Thomas Jefferson that government is a necessary evil. We protect our free society by maintaining tight control of our government.
Mr. Smith and I also spoke regarding a few key issues of this election cycle.
LJ: Can you name a current tax that you would repeal?
SS: We should replace the income tax with the Fair Tax. We currently are taxed when we both spend and earn a dollar. Initiating a Fair Tax will not only allow all to contribute, but will make our state more appealing to those considering making our state their home.
LJ: What do you think of Governor Haley’s recent attempts to veto the farms bill?
SS: It’s hypocrisy at its best. The government shouldn’t be involved in private sector affairs but Governor Haley and the legislature offer huge tax breaks to companies such as Boeing and Volvo to expand within SC. Why is that ok but not to use this same their influence for our farmers?
LJ: What do you think about the “shoreline bill” that just passed?
SS: At this moment I am not familiar with the exact details of that bill. I am however in favor of continued activities to protecting our shores.
LJ: What do you think about the current state of I-526, and what is the solution?
SS: We have 40-plus people moving in every day. Traffic isn’t getting better; I’m actually in it now! We have to complete it. One problem is how we manage roads with the DOT and the state infrastructure bank; the current system has to be abolished. The Governor would decide the appropriate action for the I-526 project under the newly restructured DOT program.
We close our interview with a few intriguing questions.
LJ: What do you want the voters to know about you that may not already be known?
SS: One foot is bigger than the other! But seriously I am a huge Cowboys fan—they are my team always. When they're victorious I walk into the work like I own the place.
LJ: If we’re sitting here a year from now discussing the success you’ve had in this position, what would you have accomplished by then?
SS: Having been able to return to my district after passing the First Responders Bill (a bill which would allow first responders suffering from PTSD to receive worker’s compensation benefits), which I would reintroduce into the session as the Michael Ackerman Bill for my good friend. They’re there for us and we need to be there for them.
Remember: no matter the election, remember to exercise your voice. Stand up for those you believe in; your vote matters!