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Election is not a popularity contest

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By The Staff

I begin this letter by introducing myself once again as a proud wife and mother, as well as a conservative Republican by choice. I recently commented in The Lancaster News editorial section regarding the upcoming Senate District 16 election setting Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a Republican, against Democratic candidate Mandy Powers-Norrell for the vacated seat in November. Apparently, my letter stirred some attention to this race.

I am glad for this. Too many individuals choose not to vote, assume others will or maybe think that their one vote does not really matter much anyway. Politics are a process and campaigns are essential so that voters can be educated on their platforms and choose the best person for the job.

As a state senator, this is a job for a person who will represent all of us in Columbia and their decisions should be based on careful evaluation of each issue and the impact of their vote in favor or in dissension. Both candidates are fine, down-to-earth folks just like you and me with a desire to serve our citizens. However, politics should not be a popularity contest and I will not base my vote on who has lived in Lancaster the longest, nor whose children attend which schools.

Thus, the issue of school vouchers was raised and chosen by Mandy Powers-Norrell as a major issue and focus of her campaign. This is important to me as well and that is why I wrote my initial editorial - not as a Republican, but as a mother with a child in real public schools here in Lancaster. We must compare apples with apples.

The whole intent of my original letter was to let Lancaster residents know that all schools are not created equally; I wish they were. She is the one who boasts that her children are in public school when they are actually benefiting from the magnet program. Technically, it is a public school, but let's call a spade a spade. Discovery School is really a private school being funded by the state. Those schools do not have the same overcrowding and funding issues that other public schools face. Public education in Lancaster and the state of South Carolina is not fine, as Mrs. Powers-Norrell would have us believe.

My children and yours should have the same educational opportunities as those 13 students in each grade at Discovery School. Most families do not have the funds to send their children to private school, but does that mean they deserve less classroom funding? No way. I am very happy for Mrs. Powers-Norrell that she was able to get them enrolled there, and I see she is active on their board. Hopefully, this board can help enlighten others on how to get all our children in an identical excelling program.

Until then, vouchers, tax breaks or whatever you choose to call them could make the educational system in South Carolina equal for all. I never suggested taking money from schools to pay for these vouchers.

I, as most Republicans, do not want higher taxes, but believe in fiscal responsibility and trimming the fat in the budget where possible.

Wynette Birchfield

Lancaster