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Politics: More candidates line up for run in House Disrict 108

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

It was expected that the field of candidates for the new 7th Congressional District would be crowded, but the roster of candidates for state House District 108 might end up being just as long.

Randy Hollister, 58, of Pawleys Plantation, and Joey Smith, 29, of Hagley, said this week they will run for the seat, adding their names to a growing list of Republicans who have expressed interest. Hollister has been in the real estate business since the 1970s and last year teamed up with Johnny Weaver to open a commercial and investment real estate brokerage firm in the Pawleys Island area.

Smith helps run his family’s industrial pressure washing company and said he has wanted to run for office for 10 years.

Alan Walters, a county magistrate and judge for the town of Pawleys Island; David DuRant, attorney for the town; and Stephen Goldfinch, a Murrells Inlet attorney, all say they are considering a run. Goldfinch has registered with the state Ethics Commission.

New lines for the district received preclearance from the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday, meaning more official announcements of candidacy are probably on the way.

Incumbent Rep. Kevin Ryan, elected in 2010, announced last month he won’t run again. That’s when Hollister decided it was time for him to get involved in politics again.

“My wife and I looked at each other and said, you know, this is the time. Instead of screaming at the news every night, I need to make something happen,” he said.

Hollister grew up in Southern California and served on the

city council in Cathedral City right after it incorporated in 1981. He was part of the group that formed the town.

“I was very active in Republican politics in the 1980s,” he said. “Then life happened.”

He had a job where he traveled a lot and those obligations made him put politics to the side. “But I always maintained a passion for it,” he said. “I’m a news and political junkie.”

He and his wife of 33 years, Debbie moved to the Pawleys Island area full-time in 2007.

Smith grew up in Georgetown County and said he has a deep love for the area. This is his first bid for office.

“I want to get involved,” he said. “I’ve served on different charity boards and I think I can make a difference in this area. The area has so much potential, we’ve just got to reach it.”

Smith said his experience growing up in a home with self-employed parents gave him an excellent understanding of the needs of the business community and he wants to help businesses thrive through legislation.

“I didn’t go to college. I learned business from the school of hard knocks.” He believes experience is the best teacher, he said.

He and Hollister name jobs as a top priority. Smith is still working out his plan. He only officially decided to run on Wednesday. But he thinks the answer has to do with finding the perfect marriage of jobs, tourism and economic development.

Getting the port dredged to attract more cargo is also of paramount importance for economic development and job creation, he said.

He hopes his campaign will be ready to “hit the ground running” by the middle of next month.

Hollister said he is “a lifelong, staunch advocate of limited government and a protector of private property rights.”

“But more than anything, I am an evangelist for competitiveness.”

The tax structure needs to be reformed to allow new and existing businesses to better compete in the global market, he said. The current system has become “antiquated and too complicated.”

“We need to simplify it and streamline it,” he said.

He also wants to improve the technology infrastructure.

“Many of the high paying jobs we need so badly are not on factory floors; they’re in data centers,” he said. “We’re pretty well positioned to get some of that business and that serves our area,” he said. “This district can compete for those kinds of high paying jobs.”

Hollister is a founding partner of Batworx, a web application development shop specializing in innovative tools for the real estate industry, and is a nationally-known speaker who gives on-site technology seminars.

He says Georgetown County’s potential for wind energy production is a unique advantage.

“That could be a huge new industry for us,” he said. “We need to build strongly on new infrastructure and we have to fix the old infrastructure. We need to get the port so it can again handle traffic that is now being diverted to Wilmington and other places.”

Completion of Highway 521 to Interstate 95 should also be a priority, he said.

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