By Barney Blakeney
When you meet, Jeff Wilder his energy, ability and confidence are immediately apparent. They are characteristics he’s developed over a lifetime confronting issues head on – characteristics that have served him well as a husband, father, businessman and public servant. And they are characteristics that will serve S.C. House District 109 well as its representative.
Wilder is running to represent the district as a candidate in the June 9 Democratic primary. Wilder quickly asserts, “I’m not a politician!” He’s seeking election to the House Dist. 109 seat as part of a lifestyle of service. It’s a lifestyle he began as a kid in his hometown of Florence, SC. His mother taught him to “sweep around his own front door first.” He applies that lesson to every aspect of his life. His parents separated when he was six years old, so growing up in a single parent household he learned one has responsibilities – to family, himself and community. Fulfilling those responsibilities is paramount, he believes. He’ll apply that to service as the District 109 representative.
As a youth, sweeping around your own front door for Wilder meant ensuring his family had as many resources as he could provide. The second youngest of six siblings, he developed a strong work ethic taking on various jobs to help his family. Collecting and selling cans, bottles and pecans in addition to a paper route, then later as a student school bus driver indwelled in Wilder productive habits of self-reliance and purpose. Habits he took with him into the Army where he spent about 16 years of active and reserve duty. He honed the skills of give and take as a boxer on the Army Boxing Team while stationed in Hawaii and at Fort Hood, TX and applied them to his work as a salesman who now has been in real estate sales the past 17 years.
As a candidate to represent House Dist. 109, Wilder says, “Loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage are the cornerstones on which I have built my life. These Army core values are the guiding principles that have inspired me to run as a Democratic candidate for the South Carolina House of Representatives District 109 seat. I believe that each of us has a duty to see our country, state and community function at their best. I have served our country, and even though I am very active in the community, I believe I can do more on a larger scale.
Wilder has been involved in community service for decades. Much of his service has been devoted to youth and the school system – with the team for Kids Chance which is a foundation to help kids whose parents have died or been severely injured due to work accidents and as a Girl Scouts Dad. He helped GS Troop 306, Church of Christ Azalea Drive, with their “Angels for HALOS” project. Jeff helped the girls raise $1,600 in cash and supplies for the completion of their Bronze Award to assist Charleston HALOS, a Lowcountry non-profit helping kinship families support children whose parents are unable to care for them.
Wilder’s community service has won him the support and endorsement of business owners, teachers, counselors, GS leaders, attorneys and the mother of a slain youth who Jeff mentored. They are from varying walks of life, but all have the same story about Wilder’s genuine nature. But it is Wilder’s business savvy and negotiating skills which make him the ideal candidate to represent District 109. He is committed to giving district 109 “all he’s got” as he does with everything he endeavors.
At the end of the day, it’s not about Democrat or Republican, left or right, it’s about right and wrong and doing what is best for humankind, he says. “Practice doesn’t always make perfect,” he said. “Sometimes, it just makes permanent – a permanent way of life that is not moving us forward. While the exterior factors of the district continue to change with big industry right in our backyard, many of our internal factors like the high crime rate and no enhancement opportunities for our youth have remained stagnant.”
His strategy for the district includes the creation of affordable after school youth opportunities; reducing crime; expanding roadways (to meet the influx of industry and new home build traffic); and Medicaid expansion for all. He plans to serve the district that stretches from North Charleston to Mount Pleasant by creating four service zones – different communities have needs, he reasons. “It would be my honor if you would give me the opportunity to represent District 109 in the statehouse,” Wilder says to the constituents of Dist. 109. “My personal conviction of love for family causes me to want that which I seek for my own children, for all children. As your representative in the people’s seat, I will bring honesty, transparency and equality to District 109.”