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Politics: Community activist plans run for state Senate

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Joe Ford sees an opportunity to run for the state Senate.

He announced Wednesday that he plans to file for the Republican primary in District 34, a seat being vacated by Ray Cleary.

State Rep. Stephen Goldfinch has announced his intention to run for Cleary’s seat, but a spokesman for a pro-Haley political organization said she will not back his candidacy in November.

The organization called A Great Day in SC, named after one of the governor’s catchphrases, said Goldfinch, Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman of Florence, and Senate Ethics Committee chairman Luke Rankin of Myrtle Beach will not have the governor’s support. The group spent $400,000 on two senate races in 2012. The moves suggest A Great Day, which has not revealed how much it has raised, wants to reshape the Republican-dominated Senate.

Ford, a Hagley resident, said he will enter the Republican primary in an effort to reel in state government. “I, like many of my fellow citizens, am tired of our elected official and government bureaucrats serving themselves and special interests and covering up wrong doing, instead of taking responsibility and fixing the problems within our government,” he said. “I’ve had dealings with Goldfinch. We need somebody a little more ethical.”

Goldfinch said he has heard of at least three potential Republican candidates for the District 34 seat as the March 16 filing date approaches.

Goldfinch said his conflict with Haley is apparently over his vote for a House roads package. Goldfinch said he had not heard directly from the governor.

“This was a statement made my a member of the governor’s staff, Tim Pearson, and not by the governor,” Goldfinch said. “I have asked for a meeting with the governor and not gotten it. I’ve not heard this from her mouth yet.”

Goldfinch said if Haley won’t support him for the Senate, they will have a fundamental difference of opinion on roads. “She comes from Lexington County where they have light traffic and good roads. I come from an area with 17 million tourists and terrible roads,” he said.

Goldfinch said he would support either the House or Senate versions of a road package to get something done.

Ford said he would support roads, schools and higher education as a state senator. He is a mechanical engineer and licensed general contractor. Before starting his contracting business in 2004, he worked in management at Georgetown Steel for 16 years.

In the 1990s, he had a long-running dispute with Georgetown County Water and Sewer over the construction of sewer lines in Hagley. In 2013, he filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Division alleging discrimination in the treatment of the cheerleading program at Waccamaw High School. The Georgetown County School District revised its policy on Title IX notification, the section of the law that covers gender equity, and the department said the case was resolved.

“Support of community endeavors is best when it comes from, and is driven by we the people, not the government,” Ford said in a statement. “We can no longer allow politicians and government to police themselves without outside oversight and public scrutiny. Too many times unethical behavior and corruption gets covered up by internal reviews and determinations that the emperor can do no wrong. They are not the emperors, they are public servants.”

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