Builder Ballot: Election Day is November 8

Election Day is Tuesday, November 8.

Here is who is on the ballot, and who BuildPAC and SC Builders PAC are supporting.  The candidates who are supported by your PACs are noted as “recommended.”  You can read a complete report, with notes about the candidates, but clicking here.  You also can read our vote scores for the members of Greenville County Council by clicking here.

Note that your HBA generally doesn’t screen races where the seat is uncontested. We also typically don’t get involved in races where the incumbent does not seek reelection. However, if a candidate has been recommended by your HBA in past elections, we have denoted them with an asterixis (*).

Governor and Lt. Governor

  • Henry McMaster/Pamela Evette, Republicans, Incumbents, Recommended
  • Joe Cunningham/Tally Casey, Democrats
  • Bruce Reeves/Jessica Ethridge, Libertarians

Secretary of State

  • Mark Hammond, Republican, Incumbent *
  • Rosemounda Peggy Butler, Democrat

State Treasurer

  • Curtis Loftis, Republican, Incumbent
  • Sarah E. Work, Alliance Party

Attorney General

  • Alan Wilson, Republican, Incumbent, Recommended

Comptroller General

  • Richard Eckstrom, Republican, Incumbent

State Superintendent of Education

  • Ellen Weaver, Republican
  • Lisa Ellis, Democrat and Alliance Party
  • Patricia M. Mickel, Green Party

The incumbent superintendent of education, Molly Spearman, did not seek reelection.

Commissioner of Agriculture

  • Hugh Weathers, Republican, incumbent
  • David Edmond, Green Party
  • Chris Nelums, United Citizens Party

United States Senate

  • Tim Scott, Republican, Incumbent, Recommended
  • Krystal Matthews, Democrat

US House District 3

  • Jeff Duncan, Republican, Incumbent, Recommended

US House District 4

  • William Timmons, Republican, Incumbent, Recommended
  • Michael Chandler, Constitution Party

The lone Democrat who filed for this seat dropped out of the race. Another Democrat, Lee Turner, is running a write-in campaign. You can read about her here.

SC House District 3 (Pickens Co.)

  • Jerry Carter, Republican, Incumbent

SC House District 4 (Pickens Co.)

  • Davey Hiott, Republican, Incumbent, Recommended

SC House District 5 (Pickens/Greenville)

  • Neal Collins, Republican, Incumbent, Recommended

SC House District 10 (Anderson/Greenville/Pickens)

  • Thomas Beach, Republican

Beach defeated Rep. West Cox in the primary. Your HBA recommended Cox.

SC House District 16 (Greenville/Laurens)

  • Mark Willis, Republican, Incumbent *

SC House District 17 (Greenville)

  • Mike Burns, Republican, Incumbent *

SC House District 18 (Greenville)

  • Alan Morgan, Republican, Incumbent
  • Michael Reitz, Democrat

SC House District 19 (Greenville)

  • Patrick Haddon, Republican, Incumbent *

SC House District 20 (Greenville)

  • Adam Morgan, Republican, Incumbent

SC House District 21 (Greenville)

  • Bobby Cox, Republican, Incumbent *

SC House District 22 (Greenville)

  • Jason Elliott, Republican, Incumbent, Recommended

SC House District 23 (Greenville)

  • Chandra Dillard, Democrat, Incumbent *

SC House District 24 (Greenville)

  • Bruce Bannister, Republican, Incumbent *

SC House District 25 (Greenville)

  • Wendell Jones, Democrat
  • Yvonne Julian, Republican
  • Jack Logan, Libertarian Party
  • Tony Boyce, Independence Party

Rep. Leola Robinson-Simpson did not seek reelection.

SC House District 27 (Greenville)

  • David Vaughan, Republican

Rep. Garry Smith did not seek reelection.

SC House District 28 (Greenville)

  • Ashley Trantham, Republican, Incumbent, Recommended
  • Fritz Weibel, Democrat

SC House District 35 (Greenville/Spartanburg)

  • Bill Chumley, Republican, Incumbent *

SC House District 36 (Spartanburg/Greenville)

  • Bob Harris, Republican

Harris defeated Rep. Rita Allison on the primary. Your HBA recommended Allison.

SC House District 42 (Laurens/Union)

  • Doug Gilliam, Republican, Incumbent

Greenville County Council District 17 (Northern Greenville County)

  • Joey Russo, Republican, Recommended
  • Sheryl Guarniero, Democrat

Russo beat incumbent Joe Dill in the primary. Your HBA recommended Russo.

Greenville County Council District 19 (Parker/Gantt area)

  • Benton Blount, Republican

Blount defeated incumbent Willis Meadows in a runoff in June. Your HBA recommended Meadows.

Greenville County Council District 23 (City and West Greenville)

  • Alan Mitchell, Democrat
  • Ben Carper, Republican

Councilwoman Xanthene Norris did not seek reelection.

Greenville County Council District 27 (Mauldin)

  • Dan Tripp, Republican, Incumbent *

Greenville County Council District 28 (Southern Greenville County)

  • Rick Bradley, Republican

Bradley defeated incumbent Lynn Ballard in the primary.

Greenville County Auditor

  • Scott Case, Republican, Incumbent *

13th Circuit Solicitor (Greenville/Pickens)

  • Walt Wilkins, Republican, Incumbent

Greenville County Probate Judge

  • Debora Falkner, Democrat, Incumbent
  • Chad Groover, Republican

Greenville County Treasurer

  • Al Hodges, Republican

Incumbent Jill Kintigh did not seek reelection.

Laurens County Council District 1 (Fountain Inn)

  • Kemp Younts, Republican, Incumbent

Laurens County Council District 4 (West Central Laurens County)

  • Brown Patterson, Republican, Incumbent

Laurens County Council District 5 (Northeast Laurens County)

  • Jeffrey Carroll, Republican, Incumbent

Laurens County Auditor

  • Jim Coleman, Republican, Incumbent

Laurens County Probate Judge

  • Kay Fridy, Republican, Incumbent

Laurens County Treasurer

  • Cynthia Burke, Republican, Incumbent

Pickens County Council District 1 (Clemson)

  • Claiborne Linvill, Democrat
  • Brad White, Republican

Incumbent Robert Feemster did not seek reelection. There has been recent controversy surrounding Brad White that you may want to read about before you vote.  Click here to read about it.

Pickens County Council District 2 (Liberty)

  • Chris Lollis, Republican

Incumbent Trey Whitehurst did not see reelection.

Pickens County Probate Judge

  • David Allison, Republican, Incumbent

Anderson County Council District 2

  • Glenn Davis, Democrat, Incumbent
  • David Standard, Republican

All seven members of Anderson County Council run for two-year terms. Two had primary opposition but are unopposed in the General Election. Four were unopposed this year.

Anderson County Probate Judge

  • JT Foster, Republican

Incumbent Martha Newton did not seek reelection.

Anderson County Auditor

  • John Benca, Republican

Auditor Jacky Hunter passed away. Assistant/Acting Auditor was defeated in the primary by Benca.

About Our Process

Your Home Builders Association has formed two Political Action Committees that raise money from our members, screen candidates, and make contributions to the campaigns of the candidates. The Political Education Committee members screen the candidates and recommend scores and campaign contributions to the Board of Directors and the PAC Trustees. Their recommendations are based on the candidates’ positions on housing-related issues (party affiliation is not a consideration).

About the Political Education Committee

The Political Education Committee membership is limited to members who have made a $250 or greater contribution to the association’s PACs.

About our PACs

South Carolina Builders PAC is a partnership between the Home Builders Association of South Carolina, Home Builders Association of Greenville, and other local HBAs in South Carolina. Its scope is local, statewide, and legislative races.

BuildPAC is a PAC organized under Federal Election Laws and managed by the National Association of Home Builders. It’s scope is Congressional races. BuildPAC does not take a position on the Presidency.

What the Constitutional Amendments on the Ballot Mean

The SC General Assembly has proposed two constitutional amendments.  These are the questions that will be on your ballot when you vote November 8.  We have explained what each amendment means and what your vote, whether yes or no, will mean.

Question 1: Must Section 36(A), Article III of the Constitution of this State, relating to the General Reserve Fund, be amended so as to provide that the General Reserve Fund of five percent of general fund revenue of the latest completed fiscal year must be increased each year by one-half of one percent of the general fund revenue of the latest completed fiscal year until it equals seven percent of such revenues? Explanation A ‘Yes’ vote will increase the amount of money state government must keep in the General Reserve Fund (its “rainy-day” fund) from 5% of the previous year’s revenue to 7% of the previous year’s revenue.  Yes.  No.

Explanation: The state’s current Capital Reserve (rainy-day) fund is 5% of the state’s general fund budget (about $10.3 billion in the 2022-2023 fiscal year).  Its current balance is about $732 million because the General Assembly has set aside additional funds from time-to-time.  If approved, the rainy-day fund will be increased by .5 percent each year until it reaches 7% of the state’s general fund budget in four years.  This does not mean that the General Assembly sets aside 5% each year.  It means that the fund must be 5% of the state’s budget, and when the state’s budget increases the General Assembly must set aside the necessary funds to maintain the current 5% rainy-day fund.  However, because the fund already exceeds 7%, additional appropriation won’t be needed right away.  If you vote yes, you want the General Assembly to increase the required size of the rainy day fund to 7%, phased in over four years.

Question 2: Must Section 36(B), Article III of the Constitution of this State be amended so as to provide that the Capital Reserve Fund of two percent of the general fund revenue of the latest completed fiscal year be increased to three percent of the general fund revenue of the latest completed fiscal year and to provide that the first use of the Capital Reserve Fund must be to offset midyear budget reductions? Explanation A ‘Yes’ vote will increase the amount of money state government must appropriate to the Capital Reserve Fund (the “reserve and capital improvements” fund) from 2% of the previous year’s revenue to 3% of the previous year’s revenue and require that the Capital Reserve Fund’s first priority is to offset midyear budget cuts at state agencies.  Yes.  No.

Explanation: The Capital Reserve Fund is different from the General Reserve (rainy-day) fund.  The rainy-day fund is used to balance the budget at the end of a fiscal year if revenues fall short of the budget.  The Capital Reserve Fund is set aside each year and is used to replenish the rainy-day fund if it is used to balance the budget at the end of the year.  If it is not needed, excess funds may be appropriated for capital improvements and one-time expenditures.  This fund helps maintain government operations at current levels during a recession.  The Capital Reserve Fund’s current balance is $209.2 million.  If the referendum is approved, the Capital Reserve Fund set aside will be increased to 3% of the state’s budget and it will be used first to balance the budget and avoid budget cuts in the middle of a fiscal year.

Duplex Townhome issue with Greenville County resolved

An issue that emerged in the last year is a building official interpretation of the law and building codes that a two-unit townhome project is a duplex.  Your HBA disagree with that interpretation, which was supported by the International Codes Council.

A change to the 2021 International Residential Code, South Carolina’s Residential Building Code, allows a duplex to sit on two lots.  As a result of this change, Greenville County is no longer requiring two-unit townhomes to be combined and then subdivided after CO.  Instead, two-unit towns are permitted as a duplex on two lots.  A two-hour wall is required.

Townhome end units are popular, so two-unit townhome designs are becoming more popular.  Earlier this year, the Greenville County building official declared that a two-unit townhome project is a duplex. The building code states that a townhome is three or more units in a row. The zoning code also says that a duplex is two units on a single lot.

This interpretation, which has not been followed by other Upstate jurisdictions (yet), caused some builders to be required to combine lots, finish their projects, and then subdivide the lots after the certificate of occupancy is issued in order to sell the townhomes. In one case, a builder changed his plans to connect three two-unit townhomes with two roofs to get around the issue. The builder waited 18 weeks for building permits and has since had problems with the footing inspection because of this duplex interpretation.

The same official at the International Codes Council who backed up the county’s interpretation on two-unit townhomes was recently elected to the county’s Building Codes Board of Appeals by Greenville County Council,” Michael Dey, HBA vice president of government affairs, said.

“There has been debate nationally about this issue because of the fire separation requirement for townhomes vs. duplexes. A duplex only requires a one-hour wall. A townhome requires a two-hour wall,” Dey said. “This wall separation detail issue emphasizes the problem with this opinion, and why other building officials haven’t followed the county’s lead. By declaring two-unit townhomes a duplex, the county made it possible for a builder to build those units with a one-hour wall, at least until the end of the year,” Dey said. “I wouldn’t recommend that.”

As a result, in the 2021 International Residential Code, which takes effect on January 1, 2023, a duplex that has a lot line separating the two units requires a two-hour wall between the units. That change also makes clear that a duplex can sit on two lots, ending the issue of two-unit townhomes in Greenville County. “The county no longer requires townhome lots to be combined and subdivided after CO, but two-unit towns are now permitted as a duplex on two lots, and they will require a two-hour wall between the units,” Dey said.

Greenville County ends commercial plan review for townhomes

After more than three years of meetings and discussions, a change in state law, and complaints about slow plan review and permitting of townhomes from your HBA, Greenville County staff ended commercial plan review of townhomes on October 1. “It’s not often that we get to take an issue off of our list, so we are happy to move on from this episode in our relationship with Greenville County Government,” Michael Dey, Vice President of Government Affairs, said.

The plan review odyssey for townhomes, a single-family housing product, started in 2017 when your HBA agreed to support a limited review of the common wall construction detail. That review typically took three to five days. At the same time, your HBA supported a restructuring of building permit fees, which had not been changed since 1991. The fees are now tied to the rate of inflation. The restructuring, which nearly doubled building permit fees, allowed the county to more than double its inspection staff who were already struggling to keep pace with the increase in building permits that were ramping up at that time.

In 2019, the new Building Official, Darren Brock, initiated commercial plan review citing a sentence in the Architect’s Practice Act that conflicted with the Residential Builders Practice Act. “Our act exempts from the Architects Practice Act homes designed and built by licensed residential home builders and their employees and subcontractors. It always has,” Dey said. “But one word, ‘detached,’ led to this dispute,” he said.

In 2021, your Home Builders Association of South Carolina successfully lobbied to amend the Architects Practice Act to remove the conflicting language and clarify that townhomes are exempt from that act. “Even the architects supported the bill,” Dey said. “We had an agreement with Greenville County administration that they would return to reviewing the common wall detail after the act was amended, but Brock continued to require commercial plan review even after the act was changed,” Dey said.

In preparation for a new county budget, which will be adopted by County Council next Spring, your HBA began lobbying administrators to hire additional plan review staff so that the commercial plan review would be completed in 3-5 days. Some builders were waiting up to five months for building permits because the county did not increase its plan review staff when they started reviewing the plans for townhomes. “It wasn’t just townhomes that were waiting; all commercial and industrial projects were stuck in that line,” Dey said.

In late September, your HBA was notified that plan review for townhomes would end. The new building permit application for townhomes will require the signatures of Zoning Administration, Subdivision Administration, Land Development Division, and the Fire Marshal. Your HBA lobbied against the latter two, but county staff insists they need those signatures to issue a building permit. A copy of the new building permit application for townhomes is available here.

“We recommend that the developer get the “Townhouse Permitting Release Form” signed for all relevant tax map numbers,” Dey said. “We have in writing from the county that one form will be sufficient for all of the townhome lots in a community. But you should make sure that all tax map numbers are on that form when it is signed by each official,” Dey said.


Anderson Impact Fee: How The Voted

The Anderson County Planning Commission voted 5-3 on May 24 to defeat the proposed $11,208 impact fee on new homes.  This is how they voted:

Jane Jones (motion, district 6)
Donna Mathews (seconded, district 2)
Dan Harvell (district 7)

Brad Burdette (district 3)
Will Moore (chair, district 4)
David Cothran (district 5)
Wesley Grant (vice chair, at-large)
Bryan Boggs (at-large)

Thomas Dunaway (district 1)

Sewer consolidation wrapped up by Greenville County Council

Sewer consolidation wrapped up by Greenville County Council

From the “they said it couldn’t be done” department:

After two years, multiple public hearings, dozens of meetings, three very detailed and expensive studies, and three rounds of ordinances, the eight special purpose districts providing sewer to the unincorporated areas of Greenville County are now two special purpose districts.

Last week, Greenville County Council gave third reading to the last ordinance consolidating the last two sewer sub districts, Parker and Taylors, into MetroConnects. The unification will be completed on July 1, however MetroConnects is effectively governing now the installation of new sewer service in the Parker and Taylors.

MetroConnects will now serve as the only sub district collecting sewer in the unincorporated areas. ReWa continues to be the district treating the sewer collected by the sub districts. In addition to MetroConnects, the six cities in Greenville County continue to operate as sub districts collecting sewer and delivering it to ReWa.

Your HBA was part of a multi-organization coalition that successfully advocated for unifying the county’s sewer system.

Greenville County’s fractured sewer system was a legacy of the old mill villages. The sub districts were left in place when the General Assembly adopted the Home Rule Act in 1973. That action effectively froze the sub districts until a legal study provided County Council with a road map to force consolidation of sewer in the county.

Sewer consolidation was important to home builders because almost 90% of the lines in the sub districts, other than MetroConnects, were clay and failing. That failing infrastructure was affecting economic development and home building. And the sub districts did not have the resources to remedy the problem and were under consent orders with DHEC.