In the Midlands area, the Democratic primary campaign in District 80 promises an interesting last week. Two popular citizens of House District 80 in Richland County square off in the Democratic Primary as incumbent Jimmy Bales faces a challenge from Columbia area minister Neal Jones. Jones says along with his ministry he now feels a political calling:
I’ve actually been involved in political and social justice issues for a long time. I am a minister, but I’m not one of those ministers that contains my ministry within the walls of the church. I’ve always regarded ministry as ministering to and in the community.
Jones says he has been an advocate on a number of issues including a higher cigarette tax to fund Medicaid and provide health insurance for those who can’t afford it, calling on Governor Sanford to accept the stimulus money, and changing the state Constitution that now says the state will provide a minimally adequate education to providing a high quality education children at all public schools.
Jones says he has been politically active for many years. he now wants to change the venue. He says with a grin, “I’ve been out on the steps of the Statehouse for many years, now I’d like to take the causes I’ve fought for inside the Statehouse.”
Jones says he has also been a strong advocate on environmental issues including calling for tighter controls on industrial pollution. Jones recently picked up an endorsement from the environmental group Conservation Voters of South Carolina.