Ligon, Hawk vie to replace Delleney in S.C. House

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By Travis Jenkins

Until recently, neither Randy Ligon nor Tom Hawk would have seen themselves running for political office. By Tuesday night, however, one of the two men will be the State House District 43 Representative elect, representing the largest portion of Chester County and will be set to replace 27-year incumbent Greg Delleney.

Ligon, a Realtor and auctioneer who won the Republican nomination, said he’s always had a keen interest in politics, but the opportunity to run had never really presented itself until now.

“I was interested in it in high school and college, but then you get married, you have kids, you start a business; life happens. It hadn’t really crossed my mind until Greg announced he wasn’t seeking reelection. I felt like someone needed to step up and represent Greg’s conservative values,” he said.

Hawk, who lives in the southeastern-most corner of York County, is retired from both teaching and the U.S. Air Force. He said he focused on helping get more Democrats to run for office in York County when he was approached by York County Democratic Party Chair Jim Thompson about the District 43 House seat.

“He said ‘we need a response, nobody else is talking about running.’ He said I was retired, so I have the ability to serve. He said ‘it’s your responsibility.’ I said ‘I hate you,’” Hawk joked.

Hawk said “being a citizen means being part of the process.”

Ligon said he considers it important that the District 43 seat be held by a Chester County resident. Delleney is currently the county’s only resident legislator. Dennis Moss (Cherokee County) and MaryGail Douglas (Fairfield County) represent portions of Chester County in the state house and the entire county is represented by Mike Fanning (Fairfield County) in the senate.

“I certainly want to see us keep it. I want it to stay in Chester County. I think Chester has too much growth to give a seat away. Never have we been without a representative. That would be a first. We need that representation now more than ever. If we lose that seat, I don’t think we’ll get it back. At least not for a while,” Ligon said.

Barring something unforeseen, it seems a safe bet that Republicans will hold onto the S.C. House. Ligon said it would benefit Chester County greatly to have Republican representation in Columbia.

“Greg sat on the front row and I’ll be on the back row as a rookie obviously, but to be friends with the majority leader, to have knowledge of and connections to the leadership will be a big plus,” he said.

Ligon said one of his primary goals will be to help Chester County continue the economic upswing it has experienced in recent years. He said Delleney was a benefit on that front.

“I want Chester County to get its fair share. That’s a big part of my focus and something I want us to continue to improve upon,” Ligon said.

Ligon said many of the tools are already in place, including tax cuts at the federal level from a Republican congress and president. On a more local front, he called U.S. Interstate 77 “a ribbon of opportunity.” He said he was also excited by the developments in Great Falls that will open up whitewater opportunities for the first time.

“I think their day is coming,” he said.

Ligon also thinks agriculture can continue to help drive Chester’s economy and that he wants to improve teacher pay and overall infrastructure, but wants to find ways to do so without raising taxes.

Hawk said he has spent a lot of time recently in Chester County. He said he has been very impressed with what he’s seen.

“The people are just wonderful. Some of the best I’ve ever met,” he said.

Hawk said he too wants to help Chester on the economic development front and raise it above its current level.

“Chester has one of the lowest median incomes in the state. It’s only $1,000 above the federal poverty level. More and more people have left the county. We need to change that,” he said.

As a former teacher, Hawk said the state’s education system is “shameful” and has been “marginalized for too long.”

“The public education system has been slowly destroyed. Education is the primary cog and driving force behind the middle class. Teachers are losing buying power over time because raises aren’t keeping up with inflation,” he said.

Hawk said he favors “project-based learning” tailored more to students over a one-size-fits all model that “factorys students” and investment in educational infrastructure. He also believes no school should be without Wi-Fi.

“We need to think of Wi-Fi as electricity,” he said.

Hawk, who is a Catawba Riverkeeper, said he too is excited about the development in Great Falls, but wants to help make sure locals “reap the benefits” instead of big out-of-state or out-of-country companies.

Hawk said he supports James Smith for governor not just because he is a Democrat, but because Smith supports Medicaid expansion. Should Smith not win, he said it is important to have more Democrats in Columbia to help rein in Republican Henry McMaster on that and other important issues.

Hawk is also interested in addressing the state’s status as one of the most dangerous for women.

“Domestic violence against women and children is rampant. We need to make it a priority. Business will take of business, but we need to work on taking care of people,” he said.

Election Day is Tuesday.