There’s an important election next Tuesday, June 14th. The ballot won’t have Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders on it, but it will still be YUGE. So YUGE that it has a much greater impact on your everyday life than the general election in November.
Next Tuesday is the primary for local races, where Greenville County voters will choose candidates for Sheriff, County Council, and the Statehouse to advance to the general election in November.
Local races are important because local representatives make decisions on how our tax money is spent, the quality of education our kids receive, whether our potholes get filled, mass transit, public safety, unemployment, economic growth, and so many other things that affect your quality of life. This year the South Carolina General Assembly decided how to spend a $7.5 Billion dollar budget, mostly made up of income tax revenue. Greenville County Council approved a two year budget of $516 million, mostly made up of property taxes.
Members of Greenville County Council will have many issues to address including dealing with transit issues across the county, redeveloping County Square, road repairs, and issues like gentrification and controlling healthy growth. The General Assembly will return to Columbia next year to tackle a long-term solution to road funding, helping address the state’s failing schools and their facilities, a massive shortfall in the state’s pension returns, ethics reform, tort reform, and many, many other issues.
So why do we have to vote in the primaries? Why can’t we vote in the General election and that be enough?
There are several reasons, but mostly because of gerrymanding – where district lines are drawn to encompass mostly Republican or Democratic voters – which ensures that one will win over the other in the general election. Therefore, the primaries are when you really have a choice in who represents you. By the time November rolls around, the deal is done.
Despite these important issues, and the weighty decisions our representatives will have to make, most people don’t vote in the primaries.
In fact, in the 2014 primary election voter turnout in Greenville County was 15%.
Voters in Greenville County let 15% of registered voters make 100% of the decisions in who should represent us.
Our feelings exactly.
If you only showed up for work 15% of the time you’d get fired. If you got a 15% on a test in school, you’d get an F. If our doctors were only right 15% of the time about our diagnosis, we probably wouldn’t trust them with our lives. And if we allow our local elected officials to be elected by 15% of the voting population, they probably aren’t an accurate representation of our communities, or the lifestyle we want to live.
You can fix this by showing up on June 14th and having a say in who will represent you. If you’re not sure what districts you live in, who’s running, where you vote, or if you’re registered, you can check out the links at the bottom of the page. You can get to know the candidates by checking out their Facebook pages and websites where many of them explain their stances on different issues.
Be a part of the solution. Be a part of the democratic process. Have a say in your local elections on June 14th.
Quick Facts & Links
- Primaries: June 14th
- Primary Runoffs: June 28th
- Deadline to register to vote in General Election: October 8th
- General Election: November 8th
- Find out what districts you live in and where to vote
- Find out who’s running in your district
- Register to vote
Here’s the districts that are up for re-election this cycle, with the contested races in red:
There is also a contested County Sheriff’s race, and the Register of Deeds, Clerk of Court, and Coroner seats are up for re-election, but uncontested.
For questions on the June 14th primaries, or for ways you can get involved in Business Advocacy here at the Greenville Chamber, email me.
Katie Busbee is the Greenville Chamber's Business Advocacy Manager & Upstate Chamber Coalition Government Relations Manager.