SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) — Candidate for SC House District 13 Bill Kimler has worked as a high school physics teacher and chief information officer for a large company with warehouses across the country. He’s hoping his background in education and experience managing large budgets will make him an ideal candidate for the general election on Nov. 8.

The following interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

The candidate

People are tired of South Carolina being at the bottom of too many lists for too long. When compared to other states in our country, for example, when it comes to something as simple as life expectancy, South Carolina ranks 41st. When it comes to childhood poverty, we are 43rd. For violent crime, we’re 44th in the nation. When it comes to education we’re number 46. These are not numbers we can be proud of in fact when we’re at the top of the list is for things like STD rates. We’re number six in the nation for STDs.

When it comes to children who die from gun violence we’re number 5; when it comes to student loan debt, as a percentage of income, we’re number 4.

Imagine how hard it is to be a young person to get a foothold for a house or a family or a career when they’re just so burdened with such high debt and low income.

So these are the things that as I’m knocking on doors and talking to people, people say, yeah, we know we’re at the bottom it’s been that way for a long time. We need it to change. We need to focus on it now.

How would you solve those problems?

I truly believe politicians should not step too far out of their area of expertise. When a legislator whose claim to fame is being a lawyer or being really involved in their church decides to tell the medical doctor, This is what you were allowed to say, this is what you’re not allowed to say or do . . . to me, that is so upside down. It borders on ludicrous.

I want to trust the experts to practice their expertise as a politician. Anyone who says they know exactly what the answer is to any problem is lying to you. My ignorance could fill a canyon, but I am not too proud to seek out the expertise of those who do know, listen to what they have to say, and come to a conclusion.

What is your stance on abortion legislation?

So if there’s one thing that I’ve seen lawmakers or really bad at legislating this topic. There are 13,000 words in the current legislation governing when abortion is allowed, and good luck if you’re a doctor trying to make sense of this.

Let me get a little personal here as to kind of why I believe the government should not be involved in those medical decisions.

I’ve got two grown kids with my ex-wife in their mid-twenties. They’re doing great work with their professions. In between the two of them, there was another pregnancy where in the fifth month we got word that this fetus had suffered an abnormality where the brain never developed.

There’s no treatment for this, there’s no caretaking. This is dead on arrival. And it was one of the most gut-punching pieces of news. when we were expecting the birth of our first son and we had the name picked out.

All the other organs were perfectly fine, but there was no future for this pregnancy. Thank God we had a doctor who guided us through it with compassion, facts, and options.

We ended up terminating the pregnancy rather than putting my ex-wife at any more risk.

Had this happened while the Fetal Heartbeat Act was still in effect in South Carolina, the way that law was defined, that was a viable pregnancy because the viability was defined as a heartbeat.

This is why I’m thinking I say that government is bad at developing policies around this. And should not be involved at all.

Now, I also think that we should be involved at every step to help women, to help their partners, to help families do everything possible to have the family and the children that they want, help provide the medical care, help provide the training, the education, the support.

For most heart-wrenching decisions, the government should not be involved.

Let’s focus on these big items like health care, education, poverty, infrastructure, et cetera. Anything else is a luxury. We just don’t have time for anything else. Let’s go after the “low-hanging fruit” that will not involve a lot of time or effort, and can bring immediate benefit to South Carolina.

Redistricting

Let’s talk about redistricting. We just went through that cycle for the last year and a half after the 2020 census. But it was shocking to learn that South Carolina is the only state in this country with no laws that govern how redistricting is to be done. Not a single word on the books. We have guidelines that don’t mean anything because there’s no force of law behind them.

Every other state, for better or for worse, has something in the books about redistricting. So we muddle through it. Now, the state is going through a lawsuit over congressional redistricting.

Budget oversight

I truly believe that we need a lot more oversight on the spending that’s happening in our state.

For example, South Carolina established a budgetary line item to fund an illegal immigration hotline phone number and website where people could report violations.

So they allocated $30,000 a year for this hotline and the next year, another $30,000. It went on for five years.

Finally, in this budgetary cycle, somebody in the Senate pointed out, you know, we’ve not received a single call on this hotline. $150,000 spent and never rang once.

From what I understand, it’s still in the budget. They didn’t want to get rid of it, and that’s the type of oversight we’re lacking.

I’ve been responsible for millions of dollars of budgets in my career as a CIO, and when you make a request to spend money, you should measure the results. Did you get what you expected out of it? Sometimes it’s a gamble, sometimes it’s a matter of faith and things don’t work out.

That’s fine, but you have to put in some governance that says if we didn’t get a certain result, then maybe we don’t spend that money anymore.

What changes would you like to see in public education?

The number one thing I would love to see changed is just giving public educators the respect they deserve. I’ve lived that lifestyle. I was a high school physics teacher.

Let’s fund these schools the way they’re supposed to be funded. Let’s give the teachers the support and dignity on the job that they deserve. And we’re going to see those numbers rise.

We have a problem in this state where we have not been drawing in the population that we need to fill businesses and public schools.

We need to make the state more attractive for laborers to come here and get paid fairly, and that includes the public education system. They need to be able to raise a family and live a comfortable life.

Background

I double majored in physics and mathematics, and then I went on to graduate school where I got my master’s in science and physics and a master’s in arts in teaching. What I wanted to be when I grew up was a science teacher. I wanted to be a physics professor. That was my passion.

I taught for a little while at the high school and college level, but ended up going into technology working in software development and databases. I was the CIO of a $4 billion enterprise in the Northeast with warehouses throughout the country.

I relocated to South Carolina about ten years ago, and work at home as a software product manager.

And how did you get involved with politics?

It started in the general election of 2016. You know, to be honest, with you, I had never been very political by nature. I still don’t think of myself as a politician. It’s kind of a weird term, not something I had as a career goal. But I had always voted in every election. I always thought it was your civic duty to do so. But to be honest with you, I rarely knew the names below the president or governor on the ballot.

In 2016, I really started to see how our local elected officials were interacting with their constituents and talking very unprofessionally to other politicians and constituents. That really opened my eyes a lot. And so I got introduced to the world of South Carolina politics. I joined the Greenwood County Democratic Party as a secretary in 2017.

I was elected as chair of the Greenwood County Democrats in 2020 and now here we are in 2022, and I am making a run for an elected position.

KIMLER 4 SANITY SC – SC House 13: Greenwood & Laurens