Personal experience gives lt. gov. candidate unique perspective on dealing with seniors

  • Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Chris Sokoloski/South Strand News Mike Campbell, R., is running for lieutenant governor.

Mike Campbell has a very personal reason for wanting to be lieutenant governor and oversee the state’s Office on Aging: he spent six years watching his father succumb to Alzheimer’s and his mother struggle with being a full-time caregiver.

“I saw the effect it had on her, trying to take care of him on a day-to-day basis, and it nearly killed her in the process,” Campbell said.

Campbell, 45, is the younger son of former S.C. Gov. Carroll Campbell Jr., who died in 2005 and is buried in All Saints Church Cemetery in Pawleys Island.

Campbell’s mom, Iris, still maintains a second home in DeBordieu.

After the elder Campbell was diagnosed, the entire family got very involved in the Alzheimer’s Association, especially with caregivers.

“So many families don’t have the wherewithal to get any relief,” Campbell said.

Campbell ran as a Republican for lieutenant governor in 2006, but lost in a runoff to Andre Bauer.

Since that time he’s been working with former Gov. Mark Sanford and Gov. Nikki Haley to have the governor and lieutenant governor on the same ticket. That change has been approved and will begin in 2018.

He decided to run again only after Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell decided not to run for re-election to pursue the presidency of the College of Charleston.

Campbell praised the work of McConnell, who lost his mother to Alzheimer’s, and wants to pick up where McConnell left off.

“He has done a fabulous job with that Office on Aging actually going out to the seniors, to the senior centers and involved them in finding out first-hand what their needs are, what the state can be doing to help these people,” Campbell said.

That work will only continue to grow as more retires move to the state. Some have labeled the influx of seniors as a “Gray Tsunami.”

“Particularly here on the coast, our senior population is growing by leaps and bounds,” Campbell said. “As our population lives longer, and as more people move into the state, this is going to become more and more of an issue for us.”

If elected, Campbell said he’d evaluate every program to see how effective is it and how it can be improved, and if it isn’t used, reallocate the funds. He’d also involve more “stakeholder groups,” like the Alzheimer’s Association, and faith-based organizations like churches.

“I don’t think the answer is to continue to look to the government to do it,” Campbell said. “I’m a firm believer that the private sector always does it better than the government.”

He’d also use the “bully pulpit” of the lieutenant governor’s office to advocate for small businesses and help create jobs.

“If you’re not creating jobs for your state then you’re not building your economy,” Campbell said. “And if you’re not building your economy, then you don’t have the necessary resources to be able to tackle things like health care [and] like education.”

As the husband of a school teacher and the father of a seventh-grader and a fifth-grader, education is very important to Campbell, but he also ties it in with job creation.

“You can improve education all you want but it does no good if that child, after they graduate from high school or college, doesn’t have a job,” Campbell said. “I think it’s inexcusable that a kid gets an education in his state, but then has to move out of state to pursue their own dreams.”

Campbell lauded Haley for her job creation, but said while she concentrates on international business and getting existing businesses to expand, he’d concentrate on small businesses.

“It is the backbone of this state,” said Campbell, who used to own two Wendy’s in Georgetown. ‘We don’t need to lose sight of our small businesses.”

He’d like to see the government provide an atmosphere where small businesses can success and thrive, like offering tax credits to offset a higher minimum wage and the costs associated with the Affordable Care Act.

“Anything you can do to help them keep more of [their] money,” Campbell said.

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