By Barney Blakeney
After serving four terms in the office, Charleston House Dist. 111 Rep. Wendell Gilliard is seeking a fifth term to continue the work he has engaged addressing Affordable Housing; Criminal Justice Reform; Economic Justice and Opportunity for Women; Education; Healthcare; and Homelessness. He is a candidate for election to House Dist. 111 in the June 9 Democratic primary.
“While many know about my work in assisting our seniors, and where I stand on social issues like criminal justice reform, and homelessness, not many know about my work in the area of economic development- the work to bring living wage jobs to residents in my district, and the work to create business development opportunities to residents in my district.
“The residents of District 111 are experiencing rising housing costs, making it difficult to obtain affordable and workforce housing,” he said. “Here in Charleston, I have made affordable housing a top priority as it is impacting every facet of our community.” And he continued, “As a Charleston native, schools have a special connection with me. I credit the many teachers and administrators I had during the years for providing me with the tools necessary to become a public servant and businessman. The S.C. Education Association consistently gives me an A+ due to my determined work on behalf of teachers and students.
“While I want to see more business opportunities for the residents in District 111, which is why I fight for the development of programs and initiatives that diversify the businesses in our community, senior citizens struggle to find affordable, safe and decent housing here in one of the most economically rich areas of the State.”
Gilliard said among his fist priorities upon re-election will be to focus on the plight of residents in Charleston’s Joseph Floyd Manor, a retirement home in the upper Charleston peninsula operated by Charleston County Housing and Redevelopment Authority. The building has gained the reputation as a haven for nefarious activities. Gilliard recently toured the building with several other elected officials firsthand witnessing what Gilliard termed as subpar living conditions.
“I’d like to start with Joseph Floyd Manor,” he said. “All levels of government should share responsibility for its present serious issues. As a member of the house, I will not be idle on this issue.” And he will put equal focus on homelessness. “South Carolina has the fastest growing population of homeless,” he said. “Unless we work proactively the rate will continue and begin to burden our cities and towns. There are humane and redemptive solutions that benefit both the homeless and the communities that serve them,” he said.
Gilliard said his fifth term also will allow him to continue focus on hate crimes. He previously introduced House Bill-3063 that remains stuck in committees. Additionally he will focus on 1) mass incarceration-nonviolent drug offenders 2) police reform-body cameras 3) first and second chance act to fight recidivism) 4) gun reform 5) criminal domestic violence-Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Regarding education Gilliard noted, “We moved S.C. teachers from the 40th Percentile to the 20th percentile in teacher’s pay for Southeastern states by giving teachers in the state a $3000 pay raise. I have consistently introduced legislation to raise teacher pay in South Carolina to the Southeastern average and will continue to do so.”