Democratic candidates debate for Robert Ford's state senate seat

Democratic candidates debate for Robert Ford's state senate seat

NORTH CHARLESTON (WCSC) - The six Democrats vying for Robert Ford's senate seat participated in an animated debate at Trident Technical College Tuesday night. The former senator, who held the seat in district 42 for 20 years, resigned in May amid allegations he violated state ethics law.

Some voters say they weren't too sure what to expect tonight, but they say the candidates delivered.

"It was amazing," says Roneka Matheny, a voter. "It was a very spirited debate. The issues were very relevant to my daily life and also talking about some national issues, Obama was mentioned, the healthcare act.

The 90-minute debate spanned a variety of issues from the President's Affordable Care Act and jobs to concealed weapons and the "Stand Your Ground" law. Many of the questions sparked a spirited debate and the topic of school vouchers and tax breaks for private education was no exception.

"What we need to do is train our teachers and support our teachers and not just give them that lip service," says Emmanuel Ferguson. "When I was a teacher I got a $220 check in the beginning of the year, and they said here's a $220 check go to a classroom of 30 students and teach them what they need to know for 180 days. Now, I taught social studies, but that math just doesn't add up."

"We need to go back to the tax code and put the money back to educate our children," says Herbert Fielding. "If you want to go to private school, pay for it yourself."

"Nikki Haley, since she has been the Governor, has vetoed more than $110 million for public education, and, more importantly, she has consistently supported schemes to divert money from public schools to private schools," says Marlon Kimpson."

"Every child should have a quality education, and I don't understand in our constitution it uses the word the state is required to provide a minimum adequate education," says Margaret Rush. "Why not a maximum?"

"I don't support given monies to private industry, state money in terms of the school system," says Bob Thompson."

"I support the education of all children," says Maurice Washington. "I'm against using vouchers, public funds to support private education or tax breaks to parents who choose or opt to choose a private education for their children."

While the former senator vacated his seat in May citing health issues, Robert Ford's resignation also came amid allegations of ethics violations. Voters say while they were disappointed following his resignation, they're ready to move forward with a fresh face and fresh ideas.

One Republican and two Libertarians are also running. The primary is August 13th and the special election will be held October 1st.