Candidate Differences Highlighted in Burgess Forum

By Paul Gable

We are now down to the final week in the primary campaigns with the candidates attempting to separate themselves from their competition.

Recently, the Burgess Community hosted a candidate forum for Republican primary candidates for House District 106 and Horry County School Board District 5. The differences in the candidates were apparent.

The House District 106 race pits incumbent Rep. Nelson Hardwick against Surfside Beach city council member Rod Smith.

In his opening remarks, Smith said Hardwick was not “conservative enough” in his approach to government. Yet, it was Smith who voted for a government monopoly that has caused the loss of jobs in the private sector of the economy in Horry County.

As a member of the Horry County Solid Waste Authority Board of Directors, Smith voted for government monopoly, known as flow control, of garbage disposal in Horry County. Hardwick opposes the flow control government monopoly and has supported a freedom of choice bill in the General Assembly to end it.

I don’t know about you, but to me a good conservative is one who keeps government interference out of the economy, not one who imposes total government control over a sector of it. That was always a definition of socialism, even communism, as I recall.

Smith claims flow control is needed in order to keep “out of state waste” from coming into the county and to support recycling programs in the county. However, no out of state waste was being disposed of at the county landfill on Hwy 90 before flow control was instituted in 2009 and recycling programs have been part of the SWA program for the last 20 years.

The SWA, especially during the years Smith served on the board, was very good at obfuscating the truth about its actions.

Hardwick said it was all about the money. He mentioned the $25-$35 million the SWA controls in its reserve funds, much of it unrestricted reserves, while the SWA was building a “mountain of garbage” at its landfill.

Smith also ran into trouble with questions from the public about campaign literature he has sent out claiming government spending has increased by over 30 percent while Hardwick has represented the district over the past eight years.

Again, Smith got caught. Challenged from the audience to “show it (the accuracy of his claims) or quit saying it”, he was unable to support his statements. Smith also suffered the ignominy of being presented with documents from the audience refuting his claims.

As we understand it, the impetus for the Smith candidacy and a majority of the funding for it comes from conservationist groups who are angry at Hardwick for holding up passage of a “bottle bill” in committee at the House.

Again, it appears to be Hardwick who is working to keep government interference out of the economy while the self-professed “strong conservative” Smith is actually supporting expansion of government into it.

The school board race presents different issues for voters. Incumbent Paul Peterson is a professor of Political Science at Coastal Carolina University who has served the district for 12 years. Janice Morreale is a concerned parent who has served on various school advisory boards over the past 15 years.

Morreale has campaigned on the issue of allowing teachers to teach rather than bogging them down with extraneous paperwork and excess government standards oversight. She also advocates cutting down on administrators and putting more money into classroom instruction.

In his opening remarks, Peterson went on the attack immediately, always a sign of a candidate in trouble. He inferred Morreale didn’t understand the work of the school board. He said you needed ‘a knowledge of things on what the board deals with’ in order to serve on the board. His remarks were aimed at justifying re-electing incumbents.

During his egotistical diatribe, Peterson attacked Morreale for not being aware of what is known as the “middle school problem.” He also attacked Morreale for speaking well of former school board member Mary Ellen Greene. Peterson accused Greene of being a ‘shill’ for the administration and was very derogatory in his comments about her.

Funny, in covering many school board meetings over the years, I don’t recall Peterson challenging Greene on any issue during the years they served on the board together, or bothering to say much of anything during meetings.

Peterson said the board works under what is known as “policy governance” where the board sets the policy and the administration, under the direction of the superintendent, makes all the decisions about how it is carried out.

Policy governance was challenged several years ago by some of the most qualified teachers in the school system on the grounds that it gives all power to the administrative bureaucracy in the system, robbing both the teachers and school board from effective input.

From attending school board meetings, I know the board doesn’t actually make policy. What it does is vote on policy recommended to it by the administration. This results in having administration both set policy and carry it out.

Peterson claimed to be independent and quick thinking, but I have witnessed meetings of the school board where the budget (approximately one-half billion dollars per year) is passed in three readings (votes) without one question being raised by any board member about any of the recommended expenditures.

This is not oversight! It is acquiescence at its most extreme by board members and Peterson, for all his bombast, has been complicit in it.

Morreale advocates true independent thinking, advocacy for the concerns of her constituents and inclusion of board members in policy discussions, especially with respect to consideration of the largest budget of any governmental agency in Horry County.



  1. Well written and accurate. Too bad the rest of the press in the county can’t research the issues and print truth rather than PBS’s. “public beauracracy announcements”.

  2. John E Bonsignor

    What an excellent article; I was in the audience at Burgess the night of the deabte, and I must say the reporters observation of the meeting is accurate without embellishment. To me it is refreshing to read a news story that reports the facts, instead of an opinion or commentary by the reporter. The heart of Rod Smith’s campaign has been the SWA flow control contversey, and the legislation oked by the House of Rep. to curtail its monopoly; this issue is now off the board as the Senate is not going to take up this issue during the last days of this session. Therefore, there is no legislation approval on flow flow;and Rod Smith major campaign issue has vanished.

  3. Janice Morreale is a personal friend of mine. She is honest and hard working. Janice has made it her business to understand how the school board operates. Janice will be a “working” school board member and will make decisions that put the education of our children first. It is time for a change in our district. Please vote for Janice Morreale, District 5 on June 12th.

  4. I appreciate your coverage of the Burgess Event. I have tried over the past several weeks to get Mr. Smith to provide any data that would indicate that I had voted to increase state spending by 30%. From his campaign email he stated the following: [[Nelson’s smoke screen on his vote for a nearly 30 percent spending increase in the state budget just won’t hold up to the facts. According to the State Expenditure Report, published by the National Association of State Budget Officers, South Carolina spending increased from $20.3 billion in fiscal 2010 to $25.7 billion in fiscal 2011, a huge 26.5 percent increase. The spending increase that Nelson voted for ranked South Carolina as having the second highest budget spending increase in the nation in a year when the average increase among all states was just 4.1 percent.]] The link he provided: pages 7 & 8
    Will he explain it to you and your readers?

  5. No more than he will explain why the Solid Waste Authority budget increased by almost 50% while he was a board member while the amount of garbage they were burying remained essentially the same.

  6. I’ve known both Hardwick and Smith since the South Strand Republican Club was started. Without any question, I can recommend Rep. Hardwick over Mr. Smith a thousand to one. Mr. Smith doesn’t need to go to Washington, Columbia or even back to the Surfside Beach Town Council.

  7. The 1st time Rod was told about the actual Budget numbers, I felt, well he just made a mistake. Unfornuate as it is. Then he did it again. Now I feel there is something else going on. Today I received the 3rd iteration of the same lie.

    I ask Rod this: Is winning that important?

    Didn’t you learn lying does not pay?

  8. John E Bonsignor

    Rod Smith echoing the inaccurate facts concerning his outlandish 30% increase in the State budget, is done by smoke and mirrors by his advisor. This question was asked of Smith, and he couldn’t answer the questioners inquiry saying “I will have to check on this number, and get back to you? But yet Smith repeats, and repeats the mistake; no one’s taxes have gone up 30%, I know mine haven’t. Questioning Hardwick’s conservative credentials, is akin to question the Mets aren’t from N.Y.

  9. Mary Bishop Hardwick

    Someone needs to tell Mr. Smith.  Facts are facts.  Estimates are estimates.  A lie is not the Truth no matter how many times you tell it.

  10. First of all Nelson Hardwick,a friend of not just mine, but of all areas of Horry county is a fair and honerable person. His approach to representation is to listen to his residents and to do what is right for Horry county and South Carolina. Mr Smith seems to have a problem with the facts. Yes there is a difference between an estimate and actual, a very large difference. It is a shame that some people think if you repeat a falsehood enough it will become fact but most South Carolina residents know the difference. Mr Cahill depended on Mr Smith to do the right thing and now what a mess.

    Please vote for Nelson Hardwick June 12

  11. I too attended the Burgess candidate forum. The writer’s recall of the meeting is ‘spot on’ regarding Smith and Rep. Hardwick. Rod Smith’s objective is keep a monopoly on the trash in Horry County. Wonder why? Also, more disturbing to me than monopolizing trash is Smith’s philosophy on creating jobs in Horry County. Rod said to give up on manufacturing type jobs and continue to rely on tourism and retirement communities. He stated that manufacturing plants would not locate near oceans for fear of hurricanes. Please do not tell Boeing that Charleston is a seaport town. You can trust Nelson!

  12. Mr. Smith knows that the information that he is sending out about Representative Hardwick is wrong but he does not care. If elected will he send lies and wrong information to the constituents of District 106 to try to make himself look good because that is what he has been doing from the first emails and brochures that he sent out. And his web site is full of nothing but wrong information other than his name is Rod and his wife’s name is Anne.

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