State Representative Shannon Erickson is about to make her debut in the State House, representing a big piece of northern Beaufort County. She won the seat which had been vacated by now-Senator Catherine Ceips when Ceips was elected to fill a vacant seat in the State Senate.
A good Southern Catholic, she grew up in Florence, graduated from USC-Beaufort. For over twenty years, Representative Erickson has called the Beaufort area home, along with her husband Kendall, her daughter Mariah and son Josh. A former public school teacher, she is now the director of Hobbitt Hill Preschools, which has three locations in the Beaufort area.
As we always do in the Blogland, we like to turn the mike over to our guests and see what Representative Erickson has to say …
Q - The House starts session in a couple of weeks, and you’ll be a part of it. How do you feel about this?
Wow, it is quickly approaching! I'm very excited to be part of our state government. I have already set up my office, rented an apartment in Columbia, and found my parking space. I've been working hard here in Beaufort to get feedback from constituents regarding issues that are important to them and in general to Beaufort. I ran my campaign on a platform of representing Beaufortonians in Columbia and of course, the mail, phone calls, emails, and face-to-face communications with members of our community are filling my calendar, but that's truthfully an enjoyment for me.
I do have to say that after two years of standing in the lobby of the State House waiting to speak with members of our General Assembly, it will be quite surreal to actually walk through the doors into the House chamber! I am certain that there will be many procedural nuances that I will need to take note of and I will work hard to learn them. Prayers are always welcome and appreciated.
Q - Which issues are priorities for you and your district?
There are some very heavy issues that weigh on us here in the Lowcountry. Basically, I believe that we need to look at how much of our tax dollars come back to Beaufort from Columbia. Specifically, economic development dollars, education funding, and transportation infrastructure come to mind, since the formulas for these look at property values and median income, this really skews the true picture of Beaufort County.
We are fortunate here to have some of the most valuable real estate in the state, but unfortunate in that our workers receive the lowest wages in South Carolina. We must also address the issue of annexation on a state level to assist our cities, towns and counties. One of our most valuable natural resources in Beaufort is Hunting Island State Park. That area requires constant attention and I will do whatever is necessary to protect this for our citizens and visitors.
Also, I would be remiss if I did not include illegal immigration. This issue affects us and our entire state. We must take action on the state level to force our federal government to enforce laws that already exist and we must make it better to be legal than illegal in South Carolina.
Q - What do you see as issues which aren’t being addressed, but should be?
The property tax issue needs to be watched carefully. A lot of hard work went into reducing taxation on primary residences with the property tax relief bill. Our responsibility is to make sure that it does what it was intended to do and not have unintentional adverse consequences to our municipalities and counties.
I would also like to look at laws regarding sexual molestation of children. These are heinous and horrific crimes which are not punished stringently enough!
Sustainable communities are very important down here too. I participated in a Congressional Quarterly/Governing Magazine/AARP summit on that just last month at the College of Charleston. We have to plan carefully to allow citizens to "age-in-place" and retain their connectivity to their community. It's a real issue of respect and one that ties well into others that we already have in place such as land banking, smart growth, and transportation and infrastructure planning.
Q - Did they ever find the money-spending drunken sailor or Shaniqua, who all those calls talked about? We heard they were last seen at some bar on St. Helena’s Island, and the sailor was spending money, like … well a drunken sailor.
Earl, I don't know who "they" are, but I never did hear another word about any of it. Honestly, I was too busy connecting with the people of District 124 to give it much thought. I was saddened that someone thought that necessary to do. In the end, though, I did get a chuckle out of it, especially since those who know me...well, let's say I squeeze a penny! It was an interesting campaign, or three, to say the least!
Q - What are your thoughts about bloggers and other “new media” outlets?
You know I find these new communication venues interesting. They are a quick, easy way to spread information and get the "word out" if you will, but I have to admit that the opportunity for anonymity is a concern for me. Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy reading other people's opinions and stories, but when they do not have any accountability for their "actions," the truth can get lost for the sake of a good story. I do use email quite a bit and have a website (www.electshannon.com) so use of technology for me is a large part of my day.
Q - What do you do in your "spare time" .... Just in case there is any, given the busy schedule you seem to lead.
I most enjoy spending time with family. I have an incredible husband, Kendall, and two wonderful children, Mariah (23) and Josh (21). We like to boat, travel, entertain, and cheer on college teams together. I'm a USC alum, Kendall's a Francis Marion alum, Mariah is a Clemson alum, and Josh is a senior at Ole Miss. We have some super sporting event opportunities! I also visit my parents in Florence as often as I can, and with that comes time with my niece, Emily, and her mom, Miriam (my sister) & her dad, Stephen. My brother, Norman, visits from Conway often too.
I also love my work family. I work with 56 of the most wonderful women in the world! Many of us have been together 10 years and some of us longer than that. We go to work everyday to provide excellent education and care for the 350 young children in our care, but we provide it to one another as well. I love being there every day!
Q - As you know, music is a big part of what we talk about in the Blogland. What’s your favorite album and/or artist?
Hummmmmm, I'd say that is driven by my mood or activities. Cooking is definitely time for some Starship, 38 Special, Sister Hazel, Charlie Daniels & U2. Relaxing on my back porch calls for James Taylor, Jimmy Buffet, Barry White, Nora Jones or Billy Joel. Cleaning house...well, Keith Urban, Rosie Ledet, Indigo Girls, Kool & the Gang or Foreigner. I'll have to develop a tune mix for my Columbia office & apartment, that's for sure!EDITOR'S NOTE: Here's a couple of YouTube clips of videos from Jefferson Starship that we thought were pretty good hard-rockin' tunes...
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