by CHRIS WOOTEN || I’m Chris Wooten. It’s not a household name in the Midlands. And there’s a reason for that. I am not a politician.
But I am an everyday South Carolinian who’s just like many of you: A dad, a small business owner, a former Marine and state highway patrol officer, a coach, and a good neighbor.
So, what is a non-politician doing in a contested runoff for a S.C. State House seat?
I got tired of looking at the names on the ballot election after election and asking myself, “Is this the best we have to offer?” I finally got tired of voting for the candidate I disliked the least.
We all know our state government is a mess right now. South Carolina’s Founders envisioned a citizen-based legislature made of people like us, not professional politicians who turned public office into a chance to fill their personal pockets. But that’s not how things turned out.
However, there is good news. You, me, and our friends can turn things around. We, the people, can stand up and reclaim our government. Everyone knows the system in broken, and I’m tired of waiting for someone to fix it. So I’m jumping in to help do the job myself.
After high school I enlisted in the United States Marines Corps. I graduated at the top of my class and was given the honor of protecting Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush. I learned an important lesson from both presidents: when you do your job with the people in mind and don’t think about yourself, things will always work out. After leaving the Marines, I joined the South Carolina Highway Patrol. Because of I my previous experience, I was chosen to protect the governor. I got to see the most influential people in our state up close as they worked in private.
In 2000 I was ready for a new challenge. After a lifetime of helping others achieve their physical goals, I took a cash advance on a credit card and opened Body Shop Athletics. It grew from a one-man operation to grossing $1.2 million with 50 employees (full and part-time) last year.
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Along the way I coached football, first as Lexington High and now at River Bluff High School. One of the greatest rewards in life is working with adolescents as they grow into young men and helping shape their character as well as their athletic ability.
We all know the many issues facing Lexington County. While I care about all our challenges, I’d like to briefly address a few about which I’m particularly passionate.
Mention Lexington and the first thing you often hear is “traffic!” It just keeps getting worse. Every two years the politicians tell us they’re going to do something about it. But have you ever noticed that once the votes are counted they seem to develop amnesia? Nothing happens. There’s no magic solution to make our traffic headaches go away. We need a long-term plan to keep traffic flowing on 378. We need to make DOT start working for us again. Abolishing the Transportation Commission and creating a Secretary of Transportation appointed by the governor is a good first step. Lexington County’s voice must be included in any long-term traffic plan, and we must do it without raising taxes.
We’ve got to get serious about drugs in our schools. A resource officer recently told me he’s arrested more students this school year than he made the year before when he was working the streets. We’ve got to make sure educators and law enforcement get the tools they need.
As a Marine and former law enforcement officer, I cherish my right to own weapons and I’ll always defend it. And I believe life begins at the moment of conception, and I’ll defend the next generation’s right to life with all my might.
I could go on and on, because the list of troubles is long. I once heard Ronald Reagan say, “There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers.” We know what needs to be done, now it’s time to go to work and do it.
I invite you to visit my Facebook page to learn more about my campaign, and I humbly ask for your vote in the March 13 primary.
I’m Chris Wooten, and I am not a politician.
Chris Wooten is a small business owner and candidate for S.C. House District 69 in next Tuesday’s special runoff election.
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