NAME: Vincent Sheheen
PARTY AFFILIATION: Democratic
CURRENT HOMETOWN: Camden, SC
EDUCATION: Camden High School, Clemson University, University of South Carolina Law School
PROFESSION: Partner at Savage, Royall and Sheheen; state Senator representing district 27
MARITAL STATUS/ CHILDREN: Married, 3 sons
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: South Carolina House of Representatives, South Carolina Senate, Camden City Prosecutor and Clerk for the Federal Court
HOBBIES: fishing, hunting, camping, canoeing, spending time with my family
FAVORITE FOOD: everything – I like to eat
PETS: dogs, cats, chickens, turkeys, tarantula, bees
(Word limit per answer- 400 words)
Q: Why are you running for governor?
A: As a lifelong resident of South Carolina, I have a deep love for this state. Sadly, in recent years, South Carolina has had a Governor that is dishonest and incompetent. We deserve better. It's time for honest leadership and real accountability, and I will bring those ideals to the Governor's office.
Growing up in Camden, everyone had to work together to get things done. We all had to pitch in, and as we were doing our best for our town we would run into opposition from the state and other entities that didn't work that way and catered too much to politics. That's when I first decided I wanted to run for office when the House seat in Camden became available – because I had seen what we could do in a small town by putting partisanship aside, bringing everyone to the table, and just making the decision to get something done to improve life. No one had the luxury of toeing a party line – we all had jobs to do and things that needed to get done, so we found a way to come together and make it happen. We can change South Carolina for the better by embracing honesty and accountability, and that's what I will do as governor.
Q: What separates you from the other candidates?
A: South Carolina deserves a governor who cares less about political image and more about the people of South Carolina. And time and again, Governor Haley has failed to be open and honest with the public in order to promote her own political career. There's been no honesty - just failures of leadership. When Haley's tax department was hacked into and our private information was stolen, she said that nothing could have been done to avoid it. That turned out to be patently false. She still won't release the report on what actually happened and why. That's secretive government at its worst. When Haley's Department of Social Services was allowing children to die and covering it up, Haley backed her appointee and wouldn't come clean about what was going on. That's just wrong. If something goes wrong, I'll be forthcoming with the people and get right to work addressing the crisis instead of trying to figure out how to spin it.
Q: What is the most pressing issue facing South Carolina right now? How will you address it?
A: As the son of a teacher and principal, and someone who attended South Carolina public schools my entire life, I know that a high-quality public education system is the key to South Carolina's long-term economic success and to creating a brighter future for our children. I think it's time to finally have a public school graduate in the Governor's office again.
As governor, I will focus on the basics again in public education. I will do so giving our kids the opportunity for success by making voluntary four-year-old kindergarten universal across the state. I will fight to increase teacher pay to at least the national average to attract and retain high-quality teachers. I will work to lower class sizes by dedicating funding back into the classroom and cutting red tape. And I will institute a "One South Carolina" approach to reform our tax code and improve public education at schools in ALL areas across the state. I will be a governor who talks about education all the time, not just in an election year. By working across the aisle, as I have always done, we will achieve these changes together.
Q: What has been your greatest personal success in life so far? What would you impart to others wanting to achieve that same success?
A: My family is far and away my greatest personal success and blessing in life. I married my college sweetheart, Amy, and we're raising our family – our three boys, Austin, Joseph and Anthony – in my hometown, close to my parents, my sisters, and much of my extended family. But my extended family doesn't end with my relatives, the community in my hometown of Camden has been an extended family my entire life. It was in that Camden I learned the importance of coming together as a community, always looking out for one-another. And over the years that community has extended past Camden, to all of Kershaw County and South Carolina.
Q: Nobody's perfect, can you tell us about a time where you had to admit you were in the wrong? What did you learn from the experience?
A: I was a poor student in high school, often neglecting my studies, thinking I could easily get by. But when I entered college, I quickly learned that coasting was a not a recipe for success. I learned the value and profit of hard academic work. And I've brought that attitude and self-discipline with me throughout my career.
Q: What role does South Carolina play currently on the nationwide stage? What role does it play on the worldwide stage? Where do you want South Carolina to be in the next four years? How will you get the state there?
A: Our state is all too often embarrassed by our leaders. We are better than that and we deserve better than that. Haley and other recent leaders have created an image of dishonesty and incompetency. As governor, I will restore honesty and accountability as we move forward to a brighter South Carolina.
Q: Traditionally, South Carolina has a very powerful legislative branch. How does this affect the office of the governor? How will it affect you in that office?
A: South Carolina now has one of the most powerful Governor's offices in the country. But what we need is leadership. Throughout my career, I have worked across the aisle to address the real challenges our state faces, and delivered results. As Governor, I will continue to put partisanship aside and bring everyone to the table to get things done. Because at the end of the day, it's about working together to improve life in South Carolina, not about scoring political points or furthering personal ambitions.
Q: South Carolina has learned about cyber crime and 21st Century threats the hard way. What can the state government do to prevent cyber crimes? How can you as governor meet that goal?
A: The hacking at the Department of Revenue under Nikki Haley put millions of South Carolinians at risk of identity theft. And even worse, the 16-day delay before that information was released to the public, proved that Haley cannot be trusted to get her job done. I will appoint honest leaders who I will hold accountable and who will work together to get things done. And if things go wrong, I will be honest and work across the aisle to find a solution instead of covering things up. When I am elected, I will release the report that Governor Haley still keeps secret and be proactive in protecting our identities.
Q: South Carolina has a lot to offer, from history, to mountains, to beaches. What's your favorite aspect of this state?
A: I have had the great fortune of getting to know every corner of this state – from growing up in Kershaw county and now representing the 27th district in the Statehouse, to attending Clemson in the Upstate and USC School of Law in Columbia, to meeting folks out on the campaign trail in the Pee Dee and the Low Country. My favorite aspect of South Carolina is its people, and the great pride we all share for our great state, no matter which part of the state we're from or what our beliefs may be.
Q: What should be done about South Carolina's ethics system? Is it fine as it is? If not, what changes should be made?
A: We will only have an ethical government in South Carolina when we elect ethical leaders. Haley covered up the hacking at the Department of Revenue for 16 days, while 6.4 million citizens remained at risk of identity theft. She still refuses to release the report on what happened. She has consistently lied about jobs numbers. Her administration hid a TB outbreak at a public school for two months before letting parents know their children had been exposed, and has allowed children to be kept in danger and tragically die as a result of mismanagement at the Department of Social Services.
Haley has also had numerous ethics violations. She took a state car to North Carolina to collect campaign checks, wrecked the vehicle, and then failed to report the crash, and changed the communications rules at the Ethic Commission to cover her back. There's been repeated ethical investigation about her illegal lobbying as a member of the House, and Governor Haley also has had to reimburse the state almost $10,000 for using the state plane to fly to political events and wasting taxpayer dollars for her own personal benefit.
As Governor, I will restore honesty and accountability to South Carolina by appointing qualified leaders and demand accountability from them; reforming DSS and improving whistleblower protections for government workers, especially social workers so that our children are protected. We must require full income disclosure from our leaders. And we must establish truly independent committee oversight to maintain accountability. We know that leadership starts at the top, and to have open and honest government we need to elect new leaders as well as update our outdated laws. By setting an example and building a bipartisan coalition around ethics, we will also make meaningful changes and enact substantive ethics reform.
Q: (Viewer submitted) Recently states like Colorado and Washington legalized the sale and possession of marijuana for non-medical uses. Several other states have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Would you support legislation to decriminalize cannabis for medical use? Recreational use?
A: I believe that more time and research needs to be given regarding the long-term effects of medical marijuana use and the decriminalization of it in certain states before any legislative action may be taken in South Carolina. I would not support legislation for recreational use of the drug.
Q: (Viewer submitted) What is your stance on same-sex marriage?
A: Following the Supreme Court's action earlier this month, further litigation on the issue of same-sex marriage would be a waste of time and precious taxpayer dollars. I believe the Federal District Court in South Carolina should rule on the South Carolina case, and when that decision is given, whether you agree with it or not, we must abide by it. I have been a strong advocate for ending discrimination in South Carolina's education, employment, and housing public policies. And I will continue to fight to ensure workplace protections and prevent bullying so that every worker and child in the state is able to work and learn in an environment free from fear, abuse and discrimination.
Q: (Viewer submitted) What are your plans for repairing the horrible roads in our state?
A: Investing in our infrastructure – including our roads and bridges – will be one of my top priorities as governor. I will do this by directing resources to maintaining and improving what we already have. I believe South Carolina is too dependent on the "gas tax," and instead I advocate using the state's bonding authority to make long-term infrastructure investments. We must use more revenue sources and find new revenue streams to make needed repairs. Meanwhile, Governor Haley refuses to release her secret plan for roads until after the election which is yet another example of her failed leadership and lack of accountability.
Q: (Viewer submitted) What will you do to address the homeless situation that's growing due to the lack of affordable housing in safe, non-crime ridden areas?
A: I will work with local communities to bring down crime and create affordable housing. Education is key to success in decreasing crime rates and improving our overall quality of life. I will make it a priority to invest in and improve South Carolina's public schools. I will adopt a "One South Carolina" approach to truly reform how public schools are funded. I will rewrite the state code definition of spending for instruction and instructional support, to cut red tape, reduce expenses, and ensure funding if being spent in the classroom instead of on overhead, and offer incentives to teachers for relocating or commuting to areas where they are needed most. And I will conduct education audits each year to help schools save money where they can and provide more information on essential areas in need of funding.
Q: Where is your favorite place to vacation in the state?
A: Lake Wateree
Q: Tell us something not many people know about you.
A: I am an amateur beekeeper.