SPECIAL ELECTION: Voters head to polls, campaigning continues for Clementa Pinckney’s seat

It’s been just over four months since the tragedy in Charleston, when nine church members were gunned-down in their Mother Emanuel Bible study. One of the nine people killed was the Senator Clementa Pinckney from Jasper County, which left his senate seat open. In Tuesday’s Special Election, a new senator will be chosen to fill the opening.

Voters were trickling in at different precincts across the district. The two candidates on the ballot are Democrat Margie Bright Matthews and Republican Al Fernandez.

Margie Bright Matthews is an attorney from Walterboro, who says she knew the Reverend and Senator Pinckney, and hopes to move forward in representing the district which spans Jasper, Beaufort, Hampton, Colleton, Allendale and Charleston counties, by pushing for things like education and infrastructure repair. This is her third time on the ballot, after the democratic primary and winning the run-off after that.

“I plan to carry-on his legacy first by listening to the people of the Lowcountry, working very hard, advocating for a strong education system so that we can have jobs in this community and additionally, trying to take care of the infrastructure so that we can attract bigger, larger industries,” Matthews says.

Republican candidate Al Fernandez is a Jasper County resident and former minister and political science professor at Armstrong University. He agrees in education reform, and is concerned on safety stemming from the Charleston tragedy.

“I carry in my wallet the names of the people that were killed in that tragedy. I pray for them all the time. I believe that this tragedy is one in which we should look at what the whole issue is on safety in our community in looking at the issue of criminal activity and how to resolve that. It should have never happened. I believe that the first thing that needs to happen in legislation is that we need to have schools and churches that have safe zones,” Fernandez says.

The polls close at 7 p.m. Stay with NEWS 3 for updates and results.

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