Editorials can be mundane work during election years, primarily because candidates are exceptionally cautious during interviews, which often results in everyone sounding the same. However, we occasionally have the unexpected pleasure of speaking to someone who lays it on the line without apology. Among the few candidates in this category is Dennis DiSabato, who is running for South Carolina State Representative, District 56.
In a candid interview, DiSabato stated that he was interested in politics throughout his lifetime and felt drawn to such work from a young age. Unlike the standard answer typically heard from most candidates, this response came as a pleasant surprise. Contrary to what many may believe, voters have grown tired of the reluctance, whether real or feigned, with which most candidates approach their campaigns: They had no interest in politics, but were talked into it by others, had no intention of running for office until Mr. or Mrs. So and So convinced them that is what they must do, etc....” These classic responses make answers such as the one from DiSabato all the more intriguing. This is clearly an individual who feels called to fight the good fight in the South Carolina State House without hesitancy or timidity. There are battles to win, and he is confident in his ability to be victorious. South Carolina has been waiting a long time for such a candidate.
Setting the stage
DiSabato did not hesitate when asked when the political bug first took a bite. He told me he essentially grew up with a strong interest in government, foreign affairs, education and law, and became involved in student government long before he graduated. He was very active in the Junior Statesmen of America, where he gained a wealth of knowledge about all things political. While other young people were going to dances or ballgames, DiSabato was participating in a mock Congress, where he experienced first-hand the power and drama of politics, as well as the responsibilities and challenges of leadership. While in high school, he became the first 10th grade student ever selected for the Rotary Leadership Camp. After learning to be an effective debater and civic participant, DiSabato went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Binghamton University and a Juris Doctor degree from New York Law School and owns his own law firm in Myrtle Beach. Additionally, unlike incumbent Mike Ryhal, who did not cast a single primary vote in the State until the 2010 gubernatorial primary, DiSabato has been an active voter since he was eighteen.
A strong allegiance to the district
Always interested in conservative policy, upon arriving in Horry County DiSabato became very active in the local chapter of the Republican Party, as well as the Carolina Forest Civic Association–a group focused on accomplishing goals through city council. When the district was created, he likely saw the handwriting on the wall with regard to his future in South Carolina. Told many times throughout his life that he possessed strong leadership qualities, he felt called to take those characteristics to Columbia and be the voice for district 56 that many constituents believed Mike Ryhal would be, but was not. Ryhal made numerous pledges to the public while campaigning, most of which never came to fruition, and DiSabato has no issue calling him out on those broken promises.
Passionate about fiscal responsibility
DiSabato stated that his goal is to represent the interest of his constituents, rather than the special interests or specific business interests that are often represented by those in office. As part of the community and proud to call Carolina Forest home, the prospective State Representative has his finger on the pulse of District 56 and the concerns of its residents. Among the top pieces of legislation he wants to submit are plans to change the fiscal irresponsibility in the area with regard to schools in the district. He states that if all funds earmarked for schools are used for bricks and mortar, it leaves no money for maintenance, the latter of which would ultimately have to come from increased taxes. He despises the approach of “spend the money now, we'll just tax them again later,” used by many of the individuals who were trusted to prevent such scenarios.
Also among his projects are plans to attack the 200% overcharge on residents' water bills, which he describes as nothing more than a “money grab,” as this clause was supposedly for the purpose of recouping infrastructure costs, which has already been accomplished. In addition, top on his list are plans to bring money back to Horry County that rightfully belongs to the area for projects such as road repair and the expansion of the local police force, the latter of which is an issue Ryhal recently chose to table. Disabato states that cities with much less debt, such as Charleston and Columbia are not faced with the fiscal challenges of Horry County, and that the money should be “brought back home.” He did not hesitate to mention that South Carolina's State tax policy significantly interferes with local business owners' ability to create jobs, which burdens not only the business owners themselves, but all area residents.
He stated without hesitancy that “if Governor Haley needs help to end waste in Columbia, she can't count on Mike Ryhal, but she can count on me.” Not afraid to step on toes was the clear message that came through in the interview. Those who are looking for a candidate who considers his prospective job a calling, rather than a career, owe it to themselves to support Dennis DiSabato on June 10th.