Tuesday, Nov. 8, Republican candidate Fawn Pedalino won the election for State House of Representatives District 64 with a percent of 58.33 of the votes for Clarendon. The Manning Times sent a list of questions to Pedalino, and her responses are below.
TMT: Your campaign was based on transparency and you asked some hard questions that never seemed to be answered. You questioned the Clarendon County School Board, appointed by Senator Johsnon (Clarendon County is one of two counties in South Carolina having the entire School board appointed instead of elected), having then Representative Kimberly Johnson employed and given a $12,497 raise in less than a year of her initial employment. What do you plan to do in regards to the District School Board? How can the board be made more transparent and held more accountable for their decisions, especially the financial decisions that are made with taxpayer money?
FP: My goal is to work with the school board to get to a place where they are willing to include the community more on what is going on. One example that I think would help accomplish transparency would be for the board members to start answering questions that are being asked at their meetings. Also, live streaming the board meetings for parents and taxpayers who can not be there in person is another easy step in the right direction for our school board. Many governmental bodies, including the General Assembly, have live streaming, and it needs to come home to local government as well. People want to be involved in making sure things are running the way that they should be, as our children are our future. The days of doing things in the dark are over.
TMT: After the election results came out, Senator Johnson has publicly stated twice on social media that he refuses to work with you. If that becomes the case, how will you work across the party lines to move past this hurdle?
FP: I was elected to represent the people of House District 64, which means I will work with anyone who is willing to make decisions for the betterment of our district and community. Serving in public office is not about me - it is about the roughly 40,000 people who live, work and attend school in District 64 and need me to put their interests first. During the course of my campaign, voters with whom I spoke with were loud and clear that our region needs everyone pulling together for the common good. As our districts overlap and we represent many of the same people, there is much we can accomplish by working together for the greater good. I am hopeful that Senator Johnson will begin the new year by working with me and all of the elected officials in Columbia to better our community.
TMT :After high school, you took the entrepreneurial route by opening your own business, starting a family, and becoming an EMT. Do you think this route made you more relatable to some voters?
FP: Absolutely. Having life experience in the community and being a parent/tax payer, small business owner, and dealing with the same issues that are important to the constituents alongside them makes someone relatable. I think people want to know that you are willing to work hard for them and the community and you understand the issues they face on a personal level. I have done some of this already when I worked for EMS and will continue to do so in the Statehouse.
TMT: You ran a true grass roots campaign, going door to door and speaking with voters, returning phone calls and emails to those that reached out to you. What did you learn are some of the main concerns that the citizens of Clarendon County have, Clarendon County being part of your District?
FP: Constantly having new taxes added on. For example, the 1% capital projects sales and use tax referendum was not passed, but at the county council meeting on Monday, Nov. 15, they had the first reading to use an old ordnance from 2010 for some of the projects that were on the 1% referendum list and mentioned that it may increase millage (countable and uncountable, plural millages) A tax rate on property, expressed in mills of the property’s value to residents if it isn’t enough to cover those projects. I will agree that some of these projects are needed, however it is frustrating to see projects that are bleeding county money due to generating little to no revenue yet expensed due to upkeep. The millage was increased for the school consolidation this year, the waste management fee on property tax was added, I believe, last year, and now this may cost taxpayers again. A lot of people in this community are on fixed incomes and are already having financial hardships due to the rise in food costs and gas prices.
The school consolidation has also been a major source of frustration. It was insinuated that consolidation would save the county money thus benefiting the community. Most community members that I have spoken with feel it has only helped a select few in administration while the children and teachers have had more of a strain with the common assessment testing/benchmark testing. They have not received new uniforms for sports teams etc. As for saving the county money, it has raised taxes in most areas of the County.
Voters also expressed frustration about being overlooked in the political process and wanted their elected officials to put the needs of the region above personal agendas, vendettas, and self benefit. They want someone who will return their phone calls and emails and listen to their concerns. They want their elected officials to work together to improve life in their community. For all of the people in District 64, I am here. I am a phone call, email, text message or Facebook message away from listening to you and hearing your voice.