With the primaries over, our Inside Interview series will be resuming, giving you a look at more of the movers and shakers who make up the sum total of our state's political and governmental realms.
Charlie Lybrand is a veteran of nearly twenty years of GOP politics. Behind Senator Glenn McConnell and Sheriff Al Cannon, he’s one of the longest continually-serving Republicans in office in the Lowcountry. He started out on Charleston County Council, and in 1994, upset the incumbent RMC in the Republican Primary. Charlie is currently serving his 4th term in this office.
We've watched Charlie from the sidelines. In Lowcountry politics, he's seldom front-and-center in politics, but you can bet he's almost always there, ready to speak up or lend a hand when necessary.
RMC is the commonly-used term for "Register Mesne Conveyance". You'll only find these offices as stand-alone elected offices in larger counties. In smaller ones, the functions of office are handled by the county's Clerk of Court.
#1 ... Tell us a little bit about yourself.
This August I’ll be 62 years old. This Monday June, 16, 2008 my wife and I will be celebrating our 40th Anniversary. We have two grown children, Whitney Hannam and Wesley Lybrand. Whitney and her husband of five years have given us a wonderful grandson Oliver Clayton Hannam (Ollie to his friends) who is 16 months old. Whitney is 28 and teaches 2nd grade in the Greensboro N. C. public school system. Our son Wes is employed by Kiawah Island Company and is working as a bartender at the Night Heron Community Club. Wes hopes to be an Events Planner one day.
My wife (Phrona) and I are high school sweet hearts. We both attended Chicora High, from there I attended the Citadel where I was drafted into the United States Army in 1967. Back then if your grades weren’t up to par and you had two arms and two legs, you were Viet Nam material. I joined the Army for an extra year for additional training and then went straight to South East Asia (Viet Nam). My wife and I were married on my 30 day leave before I shipped overseas. We were married for 10 years, almost 11, before Whitney came along. Four years later Wes was born.
I went into business for myself in 1979. I owned Precision Builders which did Renovations and Remodeling work in the Tri County area. About twenty years ago, we moved from Wando Woods in North Charleston to a new home I had built in Rantowles or as I call it Red Top Heights. We built a house that mirrored Phrona’s grandparent’s home in St. George. Wood siding and wrap around porches. Nothing fancy just an ole farm type house.
We have had three Boykin Spaniels. Beau who is our current Boykin is the love of our life. Who could ever believe a dog could give as much love and be such a large part of a family. Beau and his bride (Mollie) have just had puppies. My wife insists that we bring one of the puppies home, she wants to call him BJ or Beau Jr.
We attend Seacoast West where I am very active in the First Touch Ministry. I have been to Honduras 5 or 6 times on mission trips and I went with our church to help out in Pass Christian, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. I am also President of the Low Country Miata Club. We have a 2006 Black MX5 Miata.
#2 ... How did you get involved in politics?
Politics started back in Boy Scouts where I was a troop leader, then President of our Explorer group, then President of the Hi-Y in high school. After the military, I was President of the Civic Club in Wando Woods and Administrative Board Chair at Cherokee Place United Methodist Church. That was back when North Charleston just beginning to annex unincorporated property. I was opposed to our area being annexed by North Charleston.
After the election, I was asked to serve on the Cooper River Parks and Playground Commission. I served there for 7 years before being asked to serve on the North Charleston Sewer Commission. I enjoyed public service and thought I might be an asset to County Government so I ran for County Council in 1984 and lost. Six years later I ran for County Council again and won.
At the time my business was doing great and I felt like for those who had been given much, much was expected. So I put my whole heart and soul into the Council. Hindsight being 20/20, I can tell you I neglected my family and my business. Both suffered because I thought I was important and my service to the community was a necessity. I was wrong on both accounts. I thank God that my wife didn’t leave me and my children didn’t stop loving me. As the four year term came to a close, my business was not so good anymore and my family was hoping I would not run again for Council.
We joke about my wife telling me that if I wanted to run for County Council again, I should file for Office and file for divorce at the same time. It never did come to that but I really enjoyed Public Service so I offered for the Register Mesne Conveyance Office (RMC) and was lucky enough to win. That was back in 1994. Since that time under my leadership, we have gone through two major upgrades. The Charleston RMC Office was the first in the State to scan (image) every document that was recorded. We were also the first RMC office in the State to go on the Internet.
Our douments go back to 1719 and they are currently be scanned for longevity and will also be put on the World Wide Web. Since then we have continually led the State in technology and are in the final stages of a new system that will allow the document to be book and paged as it is recorded. The document will also be bar coded and imaged the same or next day and be mailed back to its maker. We will enter data from the electronic image from a split screen monitor. This new technology will end up saving thousands if not millions of dollars over the long run by letting the computer do the work of 5 or 6 employees. I expect this new technology to reduce our need for so many employee but I have committed to no one losing their jobs.
I have worked out a plan where RMC employees who are no longer needed here will be transferred to other jobs in the County.
#3 ... With a political career that goes back literally over decades, you are presently one of the longest-serving Republicans in public office in the Lowcountry. What are some important lessons you’ve learned from such political longevity?
Political Longevity is not something you think about, until you look back on it and say “has it been that long?” I have always been one to understand that politics is a game of addition and not subtraction. I like people and I hope they like me. I have also learned you can’t continually burn bridges. People expect you to stand up for what you believe and vote or act that way but you can’t be negative all the time. I also believed that you must be seen and heard by the people who put you in Office.
So many politicians get elected and then just go away not to be heard from until it’s election time again. I attend the monthly Executive meetings, I am a member of the East Cooper Republican Club, the First Monday Republican lunch and I try an attend the Charleston County Republican Women’s Club as well as the Sea Island Republican Women’s Club. The evening clubs are harder because I like being at home with my wife, but I understand the need to be at these meetings. The folks who are members of the auxiliary clubs are just ordinary folk who want to help the Republican cause and I think Elected Officials should be at as many of these social functions as they can.
#4 ... are you comfortable about where the GOP is headed, and why do you feel that way?
I am not comfortable with the direction of the GOP. I think we have lost our vision. I don’t have a clue what Sen. John McCain stands for. In the name of non-partisanship, we have blurred the lines so badly between the Parties that I don’t know what a National Republican stands for. That may make a lot of my Republican Colleagues mad, but that’s how I see it.
We must have a plan to make this great Country of ours Energy Independent. I don’t hear it.
We must have true immigration plan that requires everyone in this country to follow the rule of law. Last year, it was our Republican leaders that led the fight for Amnesty for illegals. I don’t get it.
The Republicans at the national level spend money like “drunken sailors” like Alaska’s bridge to no-where. That was a Republican Senator behind that boondoggle.
All colors, faiths, nationalities and beliefs must be welcome in our Party otherwise it will become the lily white country club party that can not get elected. We must learn to rally around what unites us and not what divides us with the exception of the two things that have always been the strongholds of Republicanism; a strong military and our belief that the unborn child has a right to life. We can’t waver on those to ideals.
Other than that I am pretty happy. Yeah, right.
#5 ... You've been office longer than most in the Lowcountry. With two years left in your present term, do you know what you're going to do in 2010?
I’d plan to stand for re-election once again. I like my job. Plus, I can’t afford to be a Wal Mart greeter quite yet.
I plan to keep the Charleston RMC Office on the cutting edge of Technology and stay right here until I retire. That might change if our Congressman decided to retire. I support Henry Brown completely and think he is doing a great job but if he were to quit, I might take a serious look at that position. I’d really like to try and straighten out some of that mess in Washington. Knowing full well that one little freshman congressman can’t do much, but I’d sure like to try.