SALLEY — Small town South Carolina is something State Sen. Vincent Sheheen's says is close to his heart.
The senator and Democratic gubernatorial candidate was the featured speaker at the South Carolina True Blue Democrats Club, Democrats of Salley Precinct 32's The 3rd Rally in Salley, Saturday afternoon. The event was held on the site of the Chitlin Strut, the Old Crescent City Vocational School.
“Small town South Carolina is really where a big part of my heart lies,” said Sheheen. “I try to go around the state and see what's happening in the real South Carolina. The real world. The one that's away from the capitol building.”
Gov. Nikki Haley's decision to centralize government offices resulted in the shuttering of certain agency offices, in rural areas like Salley, making it more of a challenge for the residents of those communities to take advantage of those services, said Sheheen.
However, the decision to make it more difficult for a citizen's ability to access vital records in many of those same rural communities is something that Sheheen finds objectionable.
“I want residents of rural areas like Salley to know that in the Sheheen administration, we're going to focus on rural South Carolina and how to grow jobs,” said Sheheen. “We're going to return the function of these agencies back out into the field, and not have them centralized in Columbia, like what has happened in the Haley administration. My goal is to return those central offices and services back into counties like Aiken and towns like Salley.”
The senator often finds himself with the opportunity to talk with residents in different parts of the state and sees how the economic downturn has impacted those communities.
“When I see that we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, in areas like this, where it's higher than the state average, it makes me angry,” said Sheheen. “When I meet people like those here, the ones that had their tax records stolen due to negligence in our state government, I believe we deserve a lot better. I think that the people need to hear that somebody does care, and that somebody is committed to improve all of South Carolina.”
Ben Baugh has been covering the equine industry and equestrian sport for the Aiken Standard since 2004. Among the awards Baugh has won include the 2003 Raleigh Burroughs Award as the turf writer making the most impact on the Florida Thoroughbred Industry. Baugh is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, worked for North America's leading Thoroughbred breeder Adena Springs in Ocala, Fla. And interned at Thoroughbred Racing Communications in New York, N.Y.