CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - James Island Charter High School students put five state senate candidates in the hot seat Tuesday leading up to next month's primaries.
Joe Qualey, Roy Maybank, Tim Mallard, Sandy Senn and Culver Kidd are all vying for the District 41 seat, which includes parts of Charleston and Dorchester Counties. Sen. Paul Thurmond currently represents the district.
"A lot of times the youth are underrepresented," senior Benjamin Jenkins said "We have a lot of motivated who want to go out and vote so they wanted to hear issues that were important to them."
Jenkins was one of several students moderating Tuesday's debate at the charter school, where traffic was a primary focus.
"We took a poll in the class and decided infrastructure was our biggest issue," Jenkins said, adding that students are often stuck in traffic getting to and from school and other evnets.
Many candidates responded to students that infrastructure and traffic were also their top issues to address if elected.
"Infrastructure and growth I think weigh in heavily on people's quality of life," Joe Qualey said. Qualey mentioned he'd been dealing with the issue and fighting development as a member of Charleston County Council since 2010.
He also founded the Qualey Law Firm.
Some candidates also brought up finishing I-526 as a solution to congestion woes.
"The places I used to hunt and fish are now developments," Roy Maybank said. "Infrastructure is one of the most important aspects of what we're dealing with in the Lowcountry...I am for building 526. I think it should have been built twenty years ago."
Maybank is a lawyer and opened the Maybank Law Firm in West Ashley.
"Finishing 526 I think will help all of us move around the city," Tim Mallard said.
In 2007, Mallard was elected to the Charleston City Council, representing District 11 (parts of West Ashley, James Island, and Johns Island). According to his website, Mallard is also a Charleston businessman and community leader with over 20 years of experience in economic development, project management, consulting and site selection.
He is the President of Mallard & Associates.
"I, too, believe we've got to get 526 addressed," Sandy Senn said. "I've certainly explored tolling options. I know people don't like to hear that but I'm talking about tolling on I-95 in a couple of different places, I-85 and I-20."
Senn practiced Constitutional law for nearly 25 years and is the managing partner of Senn Legal LLC, in West Ashley.
Culver Kidd, a managing assistant solicitor in the Ninth Judicial Circuit, also agreed 526 is a priority though other traffic issues should be addressed.