The Orangeburg County Legislative Delegation picked Sen. Brad Hutto to be its new chair during a virtual meeting Monday night.
Elected on a 4-2 vote, Hutto thanked his fellow delegation members for selecting him.
“I look forward to working with all of you as we move forward this year. We’ve got a lot of pressing problems that face the citizens of our county. It’s going to be incumbent we all work together, and I look forward to doing that,” Hutto said.
Hutto, D-Orangeburg, received votes from Reps. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg, and Lonnie Hosey, D-Barnwell, as well as Sen. Vernon Stephens, D-Bowman, and himself.
Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, also ran for the seat. She received votes from Rep. Russell Ott, D-St. Matthews, and herself.
Cobb-Hunter said the senior member of the delegation is traditionally the chair.
“As the senior member of this delegation, I was in line to become chair and have been performing the duties of chair since November,” she said.
“Naturally I assumed that my becoming chair would follow that pattern. I was informed by Brad Hutto on Friday that he was also planning to run for chair and, more importantly, that he had the votes to pull it off. That was somewhat surprising since he was just elected minority leader in the Senate, and I just kind of assumed that he would be full trying to figure how to recoup some of those losses of Senate seats, as well as the institutional knowledge that they’ve lost in the Senate,” Cobb-Hunter said.
She said there was a “gentleman’s agreement” that the senior member leads the delegation.
“It turns out that Rep. Russell Ott and I seem to have been the only gentlemen at the table. But, once again, we appear to have an instance where women can carry the water but are not allowed to drink the water. And certainly, at least not sitting at the head of the table,” Cobb-Hunter said.
“I have always been a firm believer in principle and process. As such, it was a matter of principle for me that the established process of the senior member chairing the delegation be followed. Tonight’s vote clearly indicates that four of the six delegation members do not stand on principle, have no respect for process, and can be easily compromised with promises,” she said.
She also said, “Isn’t it ironic that this power play comes as we end the regime of a president who also has no respect for tradition, process or the significance of the work of women.
“It further indicates that it’s not a matter of Democrat, Republican or independent. It’s a function of privilege, class and gender. Like many others, I’ve dealt with this type of behavior my entire political career.”
Govan said he was taken aback by Cobb-Hunter’s comments.
“As a senior member of this delegation who has been around second only to her, in terms of seniority, and is only separated by months, I can attest to the fact that if there is a document or anything that is there, I have never seen it, in terms of anything declaring that one’s election as chairman of the delegation has anything to do with seniority,” Govan said.
“Some of the comments that were made, I do find very disappointing, and it sounds to me, if anything, just like what we’re dealing with in Washington in terms of the president who is not satisfied with the outcome, and because it does not go their way, they attempt to attack individuals and the institution itself,” he said.
“I’m sorry that my colleague from the House feels that way, but I think that we do not need to squabble or diminish anyone else just because things do not go our way,” Govan said.
Also during the meeting:
• Orangeburg County Voter Registration and Elections Director Aurora Smalls gave a report regarding the 2020 election cycle.
Smalls noted changes in absentee voter laws and absentee voter procedures.
She noted that three municipal elections had two or more candidates and seven elections only had one candidate. Smalls expressed concern regarding the cost of holding elections with so few candidates.
• Orangeburg County Veteran Affairs Officer Kenisha Grimes informed the delegation that the Veterans Affairs Office has not converted to the new software being implemented statewide due to a contract issue with the county’s current software provider.
Grimes also noted that she is against the creation of veteran’s affairs hubs serving several counties. She stated that a proposed hub serving Calhoun and Orangeburg counties would be located in Berkley County. Such hubs would be an inconvenience to the county’s veterans, she said.
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