SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) — Candidate for SC House District 25 Tony Boyce (I) is hoping his ability to bring people together from different political parties will help him get things done if he is elected on November 8.
The following interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
What are some of the issues that feel most strongly about right now?
My number one concern in terms of building relationships is respect. Resolving our problems together. District 25 is one of the most culturally and philosophically diverse districts in South Carolina.
Demographically it’s majority African-American. But even within African-Americans in District 25, there is a broad range of views about social and economic issues.
The one that I want to address that is going to benefit not only my district but all of South Carolina, is deregulating energy services in the state.
Right now in South Carolina, your energy provider is decided by where you live and not by the consumer.
I want to introduce legislation that gives the consumer the choice, just like you choose your cell phone provider, just like you choose your home internet provider; and not based on solely where you live.
I believe that competition drives down costs. And we’re one of the few states where the consumer does not get to choose his or her own energy provider.
What infrastructure issues would you like to see improved in your district?
A constant complaint I’ve heard in the community is a concern about the roads; not only secondary roads but also the primary roads and highways that have large potholes that do damage to vehicles and make it harder to get to work on time.
South Carolina has one of the unsafest road systems in the country. There are more car fatalities in South Carolina per capita than in any other state in the region. So addressing infrastructure needs, particularly starting with roads, is something that’s practical. It’s something that we all need in order to get where we going.
I think it’s something that when people go to the ballot box, they expect the legislature to deliver a plan that’s going to improve our roads.
One thing that a lot of people care about in District 25 is how the area looks overall.
People in District 25 want White Horse Road to look just as attractive as Woodruff Road and Pelham Road.
Greenville and the Upstate is one of the fastest growing places in the country, but many people who have lived in District 25 their entire life feel that they have been left behind by that progress. District 25 has been underdeveloped.
The lack of sidewalks in the district has come up repeatedly. In the lower Whitehorse Road area, near the intersection with Highway 291, over the past 10 to 12 years, there have been a lot of pedestrian traffic fatalities.
We have bike trails in the city. People would like to see bike trails also in the Whitehorse Road area. That and sidewalks in the area are critical improvements.
Legislators at the state level typically say there isn’t enough money available. But people are saying, “How did you get those things done on Woodruff Road, and how did you get those things done on Pelham Road?”
It has a lot to do with how the tax base works. The district needs to contribute to the tax base so that we can get those roads and sidewalks built to make the community look better.
There are some precincts in District 25 that are in the city where people are paying both county tax and city tax for their properties, but it’s all combined into one bill.
We’re one of few states that still practice double taxation. So I would like to introduce legislation where people are only taxed on their property one time.
I’m from Laurens, South Carolina. My full name is Jermaine Antonio Boyce. But ever since I’ve been 5 or 6, everybody has called me Tony.
I’m the youngest of three children. I did my undergraduate at the College of Charleston and got a bachelor’s in elementary education. I was actually a hotel manager for about a year after graduating undergrad at the Hampton Inn in Spartanburg.
I accepted a call to ministry in 2000, and I enrolled in seminary that fall. After graduating, I moved back to Greenville. I was the assistant pastor at Reedy River Baptist Church for five years. In 2009, I became the church pastor at Mt. Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church.
How does your background in religion influence your politics?
I believe that there is a moral center in our nation. The majority of our federal and state legislators know that there is a “right” and a “wrong.”
The political strategy of how to get to that “right” and “wrong,” in terms of solving problems through differences, is at the center of what my campaign is all about.
We’ve got to respect all people today, even if someone comes from a different religious tradition or a different political persuasion, because we as human beings owe each other mutual respect.
We have a political culture that’s very partial. People are sticking to their political tribe, if you will. But there is also a very large population nationally and locally that doesn’t want to be a part of those tribes.
Over the last eight years, I’ve been leaning more independent; because there are issues that I agree with both parties, but there are things that I don’t agree with either party.
So getting both sides to meet in the middle on some very serious issues is critical. And I think that’s what I can offer to our district.