The Laurens County Young Republicans and the Laurens County Republican Party co-hosted a candidate forum on Monday night at The Ridge at Laurens.
The forum was streamed online with no one allowed to attend in person.
Incumbent Joe Wood and Luke Rankin are running for county council seat 2.
(Some answers have been edited for clarity.)
What is your main goal if elected for the next four years representing district 2?
Wood: “I would stick to the things I have done in the past.”
Rankin: “I want to make sure our sheriff’s office would receive the funding that they desperately need. We need to make sure our first responders have the adequate equipment that they need.”
What is the biggest issue facing Laurens County and if you were elected, how would you address it?
Wood: “The biggest problem we have in the county is money. Money doesn’t grow on trees.”
Rankin: “There is a money issue and a budget problem. I believe that my business degree and banking experience would be vital and greatly needed.”
In your opinion what is the purpose of Laurens County Council and what are the top priorities of council?
Wood: “I don’t know what you would do without a government. You have to have some organization to do these things.”
Rankin: "The county council is there to serve the people. If you are on county council, you are the voice of your district. We do not take the concerns of our community lightly.”
Brenda Stewart and David Tribble faced off for County Council District 7.
In your opinion, what is the purpose Laurens County Council and what should the top 3 priorities be?
Tribble: “Let us focus on one. We are trying to build prosperity. “
Stewart: “I agree we can settle on one. The roll of county council is to keep our community safe.”
What is the biggest issue facing Laurens County and if elected, how would you address it?
Stewart: “Again, I will say that is jobs. We should be collaborator, a leader, liaison between the larger cities.”
Tribble: “I’m going back to that theme, prosperity.
In the Clerk of Court race, Michelle Simmons will take on Mary Lauren Powers.
Describe the functions of clerk of court and the order of their importance.
Simmons: “Duties can range from record keeper to being responsible for the sorting of child support funds. They are also responsible for overseeing the operations of the court room. I don’t think that one specific area is more important.”
Powers: “Essentially the clerk of court is responsible for the paperwork and money that comes through the clerk’s office. One of the biggest things about clerk of court is focusing on the general sessions side.”
What issues have you observed in the clerk of court's office and what would you do to improve those operations?
Simmons: “There is a lack of online database. I would really like to implement having all records online.”
Powers: “One of the things I have noticed working in the clerk of court office would be there is not a lot of cross training. I would like to see more cross training so we can better manage the workload.”
Where does the clerk of court rank in digital friendliness?
Simmons: “That is one of my top enhancements. Laurens County is closer to the bottom of the list.”
Powers: “I do think we are probably farther down on the pole. I know that takes a lot of money and time to put everything online. The system we have now only goes so far back.”
How would you handle an employee that has breached confidentially and what safeguards would you put in place to reduce the risk?
Powers: “There is no need for that in the clerk of court’s office and that person would be terminated. We have a locked evidence room and a room that family court uses where the clerk of court is the only one that holds the key.”
Simmons: ”There is zero tolerance for breach of confidentiality. I would follow the guidelines in the handbook of the proper procedure to handle that situation.”