Dems push for change at Fish Bash

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By Jesef Williams

Now is the time for change, say Lancaster County Democrats.

Mandy Powers Norrell, Democratic candidate for the District 16 state Senate seat, focused on that idea at the biannual Lancaster County Democratic Party's fish bash Monday at the Catawba Fish Camp in Fort Lawn.

Norrell, a Lancaster attorney, was the keynote speaker at the bash.

She said changes need to be made to the tax system and the way schools are funded. She said her goal as a lawmaker would be to help give everyone a chance to achieve the American dream.

Some legislators want to "reinstate segregation by providing vouchers that cater to the wealthy," said Norrell, who opposes vouchers for private schools. She said many Republicans are concerned more about money than the welfare of all people.

"We need to bring accountability to Columbia and Washington to make our system about the Golden Rule, and not the rule of the gold," Norrell said.

Norrell is facing Republican Mick Mulvaney in the Nov. 4 election. Mulvaney is the incumbent state District 45 House representative. Greg Gregory, who now holds the state Senate seat, isn't seeking re-election.

Other Democratic candidates speak

Other Democratic candidates and elected officials addressed the crowd about their concerns and the importance of the general election.

Lancaster County Councilman Fred Thomas, who's vying for the District 45 seat, said he's the stronger candidate in the race.

He said his opponent, Republican Deborah Long, said at a recent event that she simply has the willingness to serve. Thomas said it takes more than that.

"Not only am I willing, I am prepared to serve," Thomas said, referring to his experience in Lancaster County government. "Please join the train ride. I need your support."

'Another D-Day'

Jim Rex, the first-term state superintendent of education, talked about being a reborn partisan. In his position, he said he tries to put party allegiances aside, as he worries about the nation being so divided by politics.

But the last several years of Republican control on the state and national level have made him lean more toward his Democratic beliefs, he said.

Rex said the country needs another D-Day next month, and the D stands for Democrat.

"Instead of storming the beaches, we need to storm the polls," Rex said, referring to the Invasion of Normandy during World War II. "It's going to have to be a straight Democratic ticket."

U.S. Rep. John Spratt, D-5th District, was scheduled to attend, but couldn't make it due to the stalemate on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's $700 billion financial rescue plan. Spratt's wife, Jane, appeared in his place.

S.C. Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler emceed the event, which also saw addresses from state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden, whose District 27 includes the southern part of the county, as well as state Rep. Jimmie Neal, the District 44 House member from Kershaw.

County Council District 3 candidate Cotton Cole practiced his auctioneering skills early during the program when he auctioned off a book by former U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings. Cole is hoping to unseat Republican Wesley Grier on Nov. 4.

"I'm just so proud of all the candidates we got," said Gil Small, chairman of the Lancaster County Democratic Party. "I encourage everyone to go to the polls Nov. 4 and elect Democrats again."

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1152