By Stefanie Harrison, Contributing Writer
*The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Woodruff Times. The Woodruff Times does not endorse any political candidate or political party.
Woodruff resident Chris Bennett has been a community servant most of his life. From a teenager serving as a volunteer fireman to his current service on the Spartanburg District Four School Board and in the community, Bennett has dedicated his life to serving those around him. Now he seeks to represent District 35 in the South Carolina House of Representatives.
An Upstate native, Bennett lives in the small Woodruff community of Green Pond with his wife Ashley, a public school teacher, and their two children, Layla-Grey and CJ. Serving others is a tightly-woven piece of the Bennetts’ lives. They serve as Disaster Relief Ministry Coordinators for their church, Church at The Mill, and their family enjoys serving together at the Woodruff Area Soup Kitchen and in supporting local children’s homes and foster families.
Being a small business owner, Bennett understands the importance of representing the needs and concerns of local communities. “A lot can be accomplished over a cup of coffee when people are willing to listen and communicate,” Bennett said. “I will make it a priority to be available at all times not only to my constituents, but also to make myself accessible with quarterly, public meetings where my constituents can meet with me and share their concerns.” Bennett stated that he will work to voice citizens’ concerns and protect their rights, including the right to keep and bear arms.
As a local school board member and husband of an educator, Bennett has a front row seat to the issues facing public education. He feels that meeting our children’s needs is key to our future success and that funds should be appropriated correctly to help public education. Bennett expressed, “Public education has not been fully funded since 2008; however, in the wake of the COVID-19 virus the essential part public education plays in our economy and community is undeniable. Never before has it been more apparent that we must make public education, teachers, and students a priority.”
Bennett adds that all stakeholders must be involved to truly address the needs of public education. Bennett states, “Funding and providing public education is not only the right thing to do, but it is the economical thing to do for taxpayers. High school dropouts are more likely to be arrested and more likely to be homeless than high school graduates. It is clear, as taxpayers, we can invest in children now or pay for them later as adults.” He further stated, “I will be a voice for those who are on the frontlines of education each day, our South Carolina educators. I will provide teachers with a legislator that appreciates and recognizes the work they do.” Bennett also supports the need for less testing, smaller class sizes, and mental health support.
Bennett explains that mental health awareness is essential in our schools and the public sector. He supports an increase of mental health counselors at the school level and an increase in publicly-funded facilities. Bennett explained, “there is a correlation between the lack of mental health facilities and an increase in homelessness, drug addiction, crime rates and incarcerations.”
An advocate for the lives of the unborn, Bennett has worked to help foster and adoptive families in the area. He is pro-life and supports the sancity of life at all times. “Abortion is a dangerous slope that leads to men deciding whether a life is valued or not,” Bennett said. He suggests that an appropriation of funding for foster care and adoption will help alleviate the overwhelming load on case workers and provide resources for families wishing to foster and adopt. Foster care and adoption are close to Bennett’s heart.
“Our foster and adoptive families need legislative support and funding. Through my experiences as a foster group home and church volunteer with foster families, I realize these amazing families and children deserve a voice in Columbia,” he expressed. ”I am the proud uncle of two beautiful children who came to be a part of our family through SC DSS foster care, and I believe with advocacy and support more South Carolina children can experience safe and loving homes.”
Bennett contends that many issues facing society today, such as human trafficking, can be alleviated through raising awareness and directing funding towards these issues. By raising awareness of human trafficking, Bennett hopes to support and fund organizations fighting against human exploitation. He urges our communities to acknowledge the public health crisis of pornography and how it is creating a demand for human trafficking.
His willingness to listen to and work with others is key to serving the constituents of District 35, Bennett stated. He commits to pay attention to needs and collaborate with others to help make the productive changes that constituents desire in our community without compromising his true conservative values or raising taxes. “Efficient use of taxpayers dollars and accountability is the key,” he explained.
Bennett suggests that effective use of taxpayer dollars is needed to repair and build infrastructure. He also asserts that rural areas deserve the same technology access as more populated communities. “Broadband is not a luxury, but a necessity in the technology-dependent world in which we live,” Bennett stated, “but many of our constituents in rural areas are left without appropriate access to high-speed Internet.”
Bennett stresses accessibility and transparency are key, but shares that citizens are currently limited to real-time and concise information about our government. He added, “Unfortunately we cannot all afford lobbyists, but we are all guaranteed representation according to our state constitution.” Bennett understands the need for consistent and open lines of communication between constituents and their representatives.
People often ask Bennett why he is running for House District 35. He explained, “As an active participant of the community, I know the people and the issues facing our district. I will ensure that the best interest of District 35 is represented at the state level by being available and accessible to the people. My desire to serve will allow me to be the fresh, Republican voice the people of District 35 desire.”
Photo Courtesy of Bennett for House District 35 Facebook page