By Damion Smalls
Boosted by increased voter turnout, an energized campaign and a yearning for change, first time politician JA Moore defeated the incumbent and Assistant House Majority Whip Samuel Rivers, Jr. to take over the SC House District 15 seat. Crediting the victory to the people, Moore declared that “This representation is for all of us,” once the final general election tally was released.
Elected as a Republican in 2012, Rivers was widely expected to hold on to his SC House of Representatives seat. As seen in the nationwide results of the November 6 midterm elections, a “blue wave” of Democratic support carried to shore a slew of fresh faces and grassroots candidates, which included the 52 percent to 47 percent edge Moore achieved over Rivers.
Parts of Charleston and Berkeley counties compose District 15. Moore garnered support during his campaign from influential groups and leaders such as Cory Booker, Marlon Kimpson, Jim Clyburn, Ill Vibe The Tribe, Julian Castro, March For Our Lives, Carolyn Hunter, Bakari Sellers, Marvin Pendarvis, and the ILA Local 1422.
As per usual with political races, Moore was the victim of a smear campaign that sought to discredit the candidate throughout the election cycle. No stranger to adversity, Moore battled on and persevered through the harsh landscape. “Our energy was too strong. They tried to stop it, but the support thrown my way was overwhelming,” states Moore.
“The tragedy in Pittsburgh especially struck my core because it vividly brought back my emotions and feelings the night of June 17, 2015, in Charleston, SC, where my sister and eight others were murdered,” Moore said in an October 30 statement after the mass shooting that killed eleven people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. “I know first-hand how the families will suffer and grieve today, and how they will carry their losses through the rest of their lives. It was the feeling of loss and wanting to do more that became the catalyst for my decision to offer myself as a public servant for South Carolina House District 15.”
Public education is to be the number one focus for Moore. “We have to pay our teachers and state employees better,” he says. “Tuition-free technical colleges” is a proposal of Moore’s that could aid workers and students. Additional pushes developed by Moore to be addressed are improved public transportation, more affordable housing options and local economic invigoration.
Rep. Moore is looking forward to listening to the concerns of his constituents and working with them to remain in touch with the community at all times. He plans on utilizing an ‘open-door’ approach to his time in office so residents can feel free to contact him and be a part of the process. “We all have to be active citizens,” Moore believes.
A slogan that Moore used during the campaign, “Walk With Me,” is now being applied to Dist. 15 residents as he heads to state capitol to represent the area in the South Carolina legislature. He is relying on an engaged and focused populace that will hold him and his political colleagues accountable for their initiatives and goals. “It’s going to take all of us to win in the end,” Moore reminds. “I will do what it takes and continue to fight for my community. I need them to walk with me to Columbia.”
Warning against the complacency that a political win for a newcomer that could set in, Moore is ready to work now. “The fight’s not over,” he exclaims. The Berkeley County Democratic Party is hosting a post-election breakfast November 17 at Heart to Heart International Ministries (106 Behrman St. Ste 101, Moncks Corner) at 10 AM. Moore is excited to attend and invites the public to bring their ideas with them to help him become the best representative that he can be.