Local News

Leon Winn: State Senate, District 36 candidate


TMT: Please tell us about yourself.

LW: I’m from Midway, Georgia. I’ve been in South Carolina for over 50 years. I’m a graduate of Bradwell Institute at Morris College, Overcoming School of Religion, Fairfield School of Cosmetology, and the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy where I was police officer. My hobbies are hunting, fishing, and used to be racing cars.

TMT: Why are you running for State Senator?

LW: I’m running to bring common sense to common problems that we have in the Senate and in society.

TMT: Who encouraged you to run?

LW: No one has encouraged me to run, it’s all myself. And God. Mine is totally spiritual, God encouraged me to run. I don’t normally use that or say that to people but that is the catalyst on why I’m running.

TMT: How would you describe your personal political ideology and/or affiliation?

LW: My political ideology is doing what is right for all people, not just for a particular party. But if the party is in cohesiveness with the way the people are living, in the way people are believing, that my ideology. Doing what is right, regardless, for everybody, not just for a select few.

TMT: How have you been involved in the community?

LW: I’ve been pastoring at Rock Hill Missionary Baptist Church for 27 years. In 2015, when we had the flood, I went with my people from the church and we went into Kingstree and we fed over 1000 people all day. When it was a hurricane and Summerton was flooded out and Scotts Branch High School as well as it was in Manning High School, we went and fed people all day at both places. We did shoe drives for the community and all the shoes that we did, I made sure that everybody understood that children need new shoes, not old shoes. There is nothing more valuable to a young child than they have a new pair of shoes. I’ve lived it as a child and I know how important it is. We did a back to school coat drive for Christmas, as well. We have been very active in the community since I’ve been here.

TMT: What endorsements have you received?

LW: I’ve really haven’t asked anybody for endorsement because I believe in running on your own principles.

TMT: How are you funding your campaign?

LW: Personally, I’ve already paid over $20,000 into my own campaign and I’ve had family and friends who have also donated.

TMT: What are the three most common issues voters are bringing up to you as you campaign?

LW: The biggest thing and I’m going to focus on one thing because right now, the biggest problem is we got to find a way to stop all the murdering and the killing in the 36th District. That’s Sumter and all the surrounding areas, as well as Manning. There’s too much killing. There’s killing, basically in this area, almost each and every day. We got to get to the source of the problem and the source of the problem is back in the family, back to community, and find out what we can do to change the mindset of theses young people in what they’re doing.

TMT: How do you plan to address income inequality and promote economic growth in your district?

LW: We have jobs but we need to find more jobs in the community. Economic growth will come with more jobs. But one of the things that I’m an advocate of for the district is to start bringing the value of work as far as the sixth grade to work with corporations and companies, the plants that come in the area to start the training program in the sixth grade. That’s about the time when young people are really finding themselves and by the time they graduate high school, they could have a certificate to go work at any plant or any industry in the area. I know it will work.

TMT: How will you work to improve access to quality healthcare and affordable education in your district?

LW: The jobs and a better way of life will improve on health care and affordable education in the district. One of the things we have to do is get better school teachers in the area and you do that by getting the funds from the House and the Senate, from the state to help fund the school district. You pay more teachers, you’re going to get better quality teachers and that’s just the gut of it at all. We need better quality teachers and teachers that are in it because it’s a career for them. The love and the passion of teaching, to me, is tantamount to the love and the passion that any preacher should have in his life as being a pastor. You got to love teaching. You gotta love this field. And if you love it, then we need to support the people in the educators in every way that we can. Better jobs will bring quality health care.

TMT: Describe an ethical dilemma you’ve faced. How did you resolve it?

LW: I’ve faced many ethical dilemmas. All you need to do is take it head on. If you have fault, admit to your fault. If you find a problem, be honest and true to the people. Our society is sick and tired of processes. People want people, especially their leaders, whether it’s biblical leaders as pastors or whether it’s politically, people just want people to be honest about who they are. We need to stop perpetrating the fraud and be real to who we are as an individual.

TMT: How would you handle situations where your party’s leadership takes a position that conflicts with the interests of your constituents?

LW: When it comes to the constituents and the party’s interest, for me, it’s always going to be what’s best for the people, not for the party. A lot of people may have problems with that but I’m a people’s person. I’m going to do what’s best for the community and for the people. Party will have no sway on me if we’re doing that. I’m going believe what’s right is right since God created time and wrong is wrong. I’m going do what is right for the people. Even if sometimes doing what is right for the people make the people mad, I’m going do what’s right, because in the long term, people will appreciate right versus wrong.

TMT: Do you believe that registered Democrats should be able to vote in Republican primaries and vice versa? Why or why not?

LW: No. Everyone should vote in their own primary.

TMT: If you were to win the primary, would you broaden your message to appeal to voters outside your own party? If so, how?

LW: Of course. One of the things that I’ve advocated and shared with people is my mother taught me how to pastor. This is a short story, I have a brother who was an alcoholic and a brother that was a drug addict. They would come home on Thanksgiving and bring home their friends and eat at the food and stuff like that. My sister said you need to do something to stop them from doing it. I was getting ready to talk to my brothers and my mother stepped forward. She said, let me tell y’all something. God has blessed me with 12 children. I got some good children and I got some not so good. But when I feed one, I’m going feed them all. That’s how I pastor. I will help anybody, on any level. Democrat, Republican, nonpartisan, it doesn’t matter. If you are a member of that district, I will do everything that I can to help you. When I win, the first thing I would do is I will go to as many meetings on both sides of the fence that I can to let people know that I’m here for you. Regardless if you voted for me or not, I’m here for you. I pastor like that. I live like that.   

TMT: The division between political parties in Clarendon County seems to be at all-time high. How would you promote or encourage unity and collaboration among our county’s elected officials?

LW: That is one of the most truest questions, that the political climate in Clarendon County is all the time hot. Every time there’s a political election, people divide by color and by party. The concept is Democrats are majority black and Republicans are majority white. I’m in the middle because I’m black and I’m a Republican. The strange thing about it, I believe in bringing people together, regardless to political affiliation, or regardless of color. We got to have somebody that is willing to stand in the gap and bring people together. When we’re divided, on the concept of divide and conquer, when we’re divided, nobody wins. You may win a political office, but the community still suffers. People still suffer. So we must do everything we can to bring the community back together and I am capable and able to do that. I’m already in the process of doing that.

TMT: What do you feel sets you apart from the other candidates?

LW: I’m committed. I don’t quit and I don’t give up. Regardless of the circumstance, I’ll stand on the principles of what is right. Regardless of what anybody says, I will not go against the word of God. I’m not perfect. I’ve fallen short. I’ve made mistakes, but I will not go against the word of God. That’s what will set me apart and even in pastoring, I don’t go along to get along. Even with my family, I don’t go along to get along. I will do what is right. And I’ve learned, over the process of time, that when people know that you will do what is right, they will eventually come around. They will respect the person you are and begin to listen to what you’re telling them.