Students moderate Horry County debate for seat in House District 56

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Three Republican candidates vying for the South Carolina House District 56 seat met in a debate on Wednesday night.

A special vote will happen next Tuesday to fill the final year of Representative Mike Ryhal’s term after he resigned in August. District 56 primarily covers the Carolina Forest-area but covers areas of Longs as well.

The room on Wednesday was packed with over 100 people and many of them were students from Carolina Forest High School.

“We just want to make sure everyone is informed and make sure we pick the right guy to represent our community,” said Austin Padgett, a senior at CFHS.

Students in AP Government hosted and moderated the debate and students in a broadcasting class set up a live stream on Facebook.

“It’s good to see them as a person not just see them as a name,” added Padgett. “It’s good to meet them and know how they’re going to react to different responsibilities here before they get to Columbia.”

The three candidates running for the seat are:  Business owner, Tim McGinnis; chiropractor, Dwyer Scott; and college student, Adam Miller.

Topics included infrastructure, education and the county’s drug epidemic. All three candidates were very vocal when asked about county residents having to pay to park in Myrtle Beach.

Miller brought up a bill in the House that says parking privileges available to Myrtle Beach residents that are not available to non-city residents in Horry County would have to be approved by state lawmakers.

“I am here to say I would support that measure,” added Miller.

Scott said county residents deserve to use the beaches.

“The amount of money our population is sending to the state and the state is sending back to the city of Myrtle Beach is astronomical and we deserve to have access to those beaches” he added.

McGinnis said his family hasn’t gone to the beach as often because he doesn’t want to pay to park.

“I cannot believe that the local businesses would allow the city to pass a law that would keep people that live on this side of the water from being able to enjoy parking at the beach,” he added.

Another hot topics was the future of Carolina Forest and if it should become its own city.

Scott said he believes the area should stay unincorporated right now.

“A lot of us are here because of the tax benefits,” he said. “That’s great. I enjoy that. A lot of us enjoy that and currently, right now, considering the situation and the things that we need to gain, that we deserve first before moving forward, I think that’s the smartest bet.”

Miller said he would like to let the people of Carolina Forest choose what they want to do.

“Give them a referendum,” said Miller. “So that they can decide if they want to become incorporated. I think they should and given the decision they would.”

Lastly, McGinnis said it may be something to consider years down the road when Carolina Forest has a stronger business.

“It’s something we can’t afford,” he added. “Just setting up the infrastructure, the cost of it would just be too astronomical without having industry here as a tax base.”

Candidates were also asked about if they would be in favor of allowing medical and/or recreational marijuana use in South Carolina.

McGinnis and Dwyer both said they would be in favor if a physician prescribed it to a patient, but would not support recreational use. Miller said he is against both medical and recreation uses of marijuana but he’s open to hearing other’s perspective.

The Republican primary is this Tuesday, October 24 and the winner will likely win the seat because no democrats have filed.