In the race for state House District 47, we endorse Tommy Pope.
This was a tough call. Incumbent state Rep. Herb Kirsh is the longest-serving House member in the Legislature.
Before serving 32 years in the state House, Kirsh, now 81, was mayor of Clover. He is a stalwart public servant, a renowned penny-pincher when it comes to public money, a long-time local businessman and a beloved figure in York County.
During the campaign, Pope has been cognizant of Kirsh’s many contributions to the county, the district and the state in his long career as a lawmaker. The Republican challenger has not overtly made an issue of Kirsh’s age.
Nonetheless, it is apparent to voters that 48-year-old Pope offers new blood and new ideas. He seeks to replace the veteran warhorse just as Kirsh did three decades ago when he unseated Bate Harvey, whom he discreetly referred to as “an older gentleman.”
Kirsh is running as a Democrat, but that is out of old habit. He undoubtedly would be just as comfortable on the Republican side of the aisle. He boasts of his ability to compromise with members of the other party, and often votes with the GOP majority.
So, this is less a partisan showdown than a reason for voters to consider a changing of the guard. Pope strikes us as a fiscally conservative moderate in much the same mold as Kirsh.
In some ways, he might even be more progressive. For example, he believes that Act 388, the so-called property tax reform bill, should not be a “sacred cow,” but should be part of the discussion in the comprehensive tax reform effort. Kirsh, by contrast, has advised school districts to quit talking about Act 388 and use their rainy-day funds.
“After all, it’s raining,” Kirsh noted.
Pope disagrees with legislators who say schools are getting plenty of money now and ought to deplete their reserve funds rather than seeking more money from the state. He thinks a healthy reserve fund is necessary to maintain a high bond rating for the district.
Pope said that, if elected, he would promote greater transparency in state government. That, he said, would help foster the confidence and courage in the business community to invest and expand.
Pope demonstrated his leadership skills as 16th Circuit solicitor from 1992 to 2006. He also has been involved in community affairs as a member of the Winthrop University Board of Trustees, the York Technical College Criminal Justice Advisory Committee, 2009 Boy Scouts Pacesetter Chairman for York County, Chief Volunteer Officer for the Boys & Girls Club of York County and Ambassador of the #1 Question, Is it Good for the Children.
District 47 and the state of South Carolina owe Herb Kirsh a large debt of gratitude. But Pope, we think, is better prepared to carry on the tradition of constituent service, solid leadership and looking after the best interests of the people of both the district and the state.
By “The Herald”