So it's been three days since I filed to run for SC House 120 and I have to say that I'm overwhelmed with all of the support and love, so thank you!
It's Friday night, I'm comfy on the couch, and it's time to do some reflecting on my first couple days on "the trail". Aside from my day job, strategizing with some great new friends, and taking care of a sick kid, I have had a chance to speak with a few folks in the community about the campaign. I asked them all the same question: "My name is Ryan Martz, I am running to represent you in the statehouse, and I'd like to know how I can help?"
I didn't announce I was running on the Democratic ticket. I didn't ask them with which party they affiliated. I just asked how I could help.
It was pretty insightful hearing all of their answers. Many were concerned about housing costs. Several people brought up concerns about crime and how it seems to be increasing over the last few years. Some wanted to talk about infrastructure and all of the traffic.
The most surprising thing to me is that not many people asked me which party I was representing until we were pretty far along into our conversation. I'm incredibly proud to be running as a Democrat, but running as a Democrat doesn't define me. A majority of the people I spoke to happen to be Republicans. But guess what? Being a Republican doesn't define them either. We are all part of the same community. Most of our concerns are lockstep with one another. In most cases, it's just the fine details that divide us.
If you turn on the news or read far-right or far-left news articles, the country looks pretty grim. I'm here to tell you that it's not that scary out in the real world with actual people. Actual neighbors. Critics on Facebook or Twitter can be real tough behind a keyboard, but hold a civil conversation with someone in person and wow, you can really learn a lot!
These next few months are going to be a lot of fun. I am so excited to keep talking to more neighbors, having healthy debates with one another, and understanding the issues better every day. We may win, we may lose. Either way, continuing to open meaningful dialog is a step in the right direction that I think we all should take. South Carolina has SO MUCH potential! I want to see it flourish. We ALL want to see it flourish! The logjam of silly, juvenile partisanship in Columbia needs to stop.
We need to start taking BOLD strokes. The excuse that since we live in the south "everything just moves slower down here" doesn't cut it. Not in creating policies that improve all of our lives. I have no time for that and neither should you. We should all want quick and responsible progress. We should all DEMAND it! It's time to move this state forward. Let's take South Carolina's potential and make it tangible. The ONLY reason we are so far behind both economically and socially, is because Columbia has failed us, year after year.
We can start with the low hanging, seemingly obvious, fruit. Protect our coast from off-shore drilling. Reasonably increase statewide minimum wage. Legalize medical marijuana, then work on ways to capitalize off this growing industry. Throw out some of the more archaic business regulations to bring in corporations and help new small businesses get off the ground more easily. Invest more tax dollars into domestic abuse shelters and services (consistently we're a Top 5 worst state for abused women). These issues are not hard. They SHOULDN'T be hard.
I just want you all to know that if I am lucky enough to represent 12o, I will use the same open-minded and genuine dialog I've always used in Columbia. It won't matter if I'm negotiating with a Republican, Democrat, or Independent. As long as everyone at the table is willing to take bold strokes along with me, I think South Carolina will be able to reach our true potential.