Wednesday, September 21, 2011

From the House

Bluffton Today

Last week, the number of constituent contacts we logged was an all-time high. This is unusual since we are not in session and there is not a single big issue, such as the budget or the immigration bill pending. What we do have is a huge number of smaller matters that each has a strongly motivated group of supporters. These include the dog fighting and dog baiting issue, along with redistricting concerns, especially the school board districts. We are also hearing a lot about municipal issues from Bluffton, Hilton Head Island and Hardeeville.

Fortunately, our staff is well trained and willing to redirect callers to the proper offices for the information they seek. What you will never hear from us is: “it’s not my job”. While we may not give advise in matters outside of our jurisdiction, we know that oftentimes residents are not familiar with the particulars of the various levels of government. It is our job to be helpful to any who call or email regardless of whether we are technically the correct office to handle their inquiry.

Although we will help correct any confusion on the part of callers, it is important to note that we have excellent relations with both Beaufort and Jasper counties, as well as the municipalities in our area, both inside and out of District 118. Part of the success we have enjoyed in the last decade has to do with keeping the lines of communication open, down to the local jurisdictions and up to the federal level in Washington. The price of miscommunication, especially at this time of strained budgets and general incivility, is just something we cannot afford.

Communication and civility were two of the high spots during last week’s reception for your representative at the home of my great friend Joanie Heyward in old town Bluffton. Among the hundred plus friends and supporters gathered on a balmy pre-fall afternoon were my Beaufort County delegation colleagues Senator Tom Davis and Representative Shannon Erickson, as well as Beaufort County Council Chairman Weston Newton. We also were joined by members of the financial, legal and health care communities, along with a number of what are correctly called “the job creators”, that is, of course the business community.

These good folks were treated to a well-appointed table of great food and beverages, arranged around the pool in Joanie’s back yard. They also heard an interesting talk from Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell, who held forth on a variety of topics from redistricting (including some inside notes on our chances with the DOJ review), state employment prospects, and the bright future of the Waddell Mariculture Center.

Speaker Harrell and I were both thankfully brief in our prepared remarks so that there was a goodly amount of social time with many topical issues being the grist for spirited and information-rich conversation.

Looking out over the crowd, I was gratified to see so many of the folks that gave me the benefit of the doubt ten years ago and helped launch my political career. It was also great to see so many younger people interested in the mechanics of good governance. I am grateful for the confidence, as well as the material support that flows from this multigenerational base. Most importantly, I am sincerely humbled by the unwavering affection and support of my beautiful wife and “speaker of our house”, Mary Herbkersman. Her patience and wise counsel makes all things possible for me.