What role will conservation play in 2010 and beyond under the leadership of a new Governor? Assuming economic recovery empowers developers to renew various building projects, how would the S.C. Governor guide future growth? Prepare to be pleasantly surprised by what this democratic candidate from a mostly rural district (Chesterfield, Kershaw and Lancaster Counties) has to offer on the subject of conservation.
Senator Sheheen is 38 years old and is a graduate of Clemson University, where he met Amy, his wife of eighteen years. After graduating from the University of South Carolina Law School he began to practice law in his hometown of Camden. He has three children, twins Austin and Joseph and youngest son Anthony, and they attend the same Kershaw County public schools that their father attended.
Sheheen began his service in the S.C. General Assembly in 2001 as a state Representative before becoming a state senator in 2004. He has faced issues such as government accountability and education funding disputes, but it his love for the outdoors that called him to be the chairman of the senate sportsman’s caucus – a group that strives to demonstrate to fellow legislators the inherent good in South Carolina’s outdoor traditions.
Question: Readers want to know if you would support the conservation land bank in the future?Sheheen: Yes, I would support the conservation bank and I am also in favor to increase its funding. I have a long history of support for the land bank and as the Democratic Floor Leader for the House of Representatives I worked with Republican Chip Campsen to create the bank. Fast forward to 2009 and I was one of the strongest supporters for the two million dollar budget. We have a narrow window of opportunity in South Carolina, maybe over the next 5 to 10 years where we can preserve special places, and I’ll push to increase funding if elected Governor. In my home district the state purchased land for what is now the Cooper-Black Field Trial Facility, an example where conservation has led to economic stimulus when people come from other areas to use this facility. Another example from my district is the Battle of Camden site where a few hundred acres were protected by the land bank to honor the Revolutionary War soldiers that are buried there.
Question: What aggressive measures would you envision as Governor to stop rampant development in the Palmetto State that may damage the $30 billion in yearly revenue that is derived from the use of our natural resources?
Sheheen: The state has to be assertive about land conservation whether it be fee simple acquisitions or easement purchases. Representing several small towns I can tell you that we need to empower our existing cities to foster growth in their central areas and to shun outward sprawl. State government and city government often butt heads about what is best and this is an area that I see the need for improved communications. Economic potential exists for rural areas when you marry the idea of conservation of the ‘countryside’ with the small town serving as the hub for that area.
Question: Anything else you would like to share with blog followers today?Sheheen: People need to understand that the biggest priority in my life is my family and I spend a lot of time with my kids and with my wife. It may be indicative of who I am, but thankfully we spend a lot of time in the outdoors. We like to hike, go to the mountains, canoe down a river, or go camping and fishing.
PhotosByJeffDennis: Berkeley County was the setting for the Sheheen fundraising event; Betsy Shuford, Vincent Sheheen and Molly Griffin; Ambassador Robert Royall and Rep. Ted Vick; John Williams and fiancee Melissa Hughes are with Gene Williams