A retired Army major from Columbia is running for South Carolina’s Secretary of State.
“I decided to run for Secretary of State because we’re fed up with the politicians failing to keep their promises, displaying poor character, lacks of integrity and just plain bad behavior,” said Melvin Whittenburg, the first Democratic candidate to announce for the office this year.
He wants the office — which handles business filings, government documents and charity regulations — to reach out to three segments of the population he thinks are being underserved: Hispanics, millennials and veterans.
“Make sure paperwork is also written in Spanish and we also need to capitalize on our buying power of the Hispanic population, which is $1.3 trillion and expected to surpass $1.7 trillion by 2020,” Whittenburg said in an interview.
Whittenburg would also like to waive application fees for recent college graduates and veterans.
“I think we need to offer incentives for those who honorably served our country,” he said. “I’m a veteran myself. It’s not more important for us to worry about gaining $110 or $150 for an application fee than it is to focus on earning more revenue for the state down the road.. Although the Secretary of State Office might not bring in money, the Department of Revenue (SC’s tax collection agency) will bring in money. So that’s the focus: growing more economic development in the state, being more proactive from that office, not reactive.”
In addition to his combat experience in the Army, Whittenburg said working as a benchmark and best practice office at the Pentagon prepared him for the responsibilities of the Secretary of State.
“It was my job to find — to redo business processes that save taxpayer dollars and become more productive for the overall Army,” he said. “So, if I can do that for the Army, I can surely do that for the Secretary of State.
This is the first venture into politics for Whittenburg. He also worked 17 years for Exxon Mobil.
Current Secretary of State Mark Hammond has indicated he will seek reelection. So far, another Republican has challenged him for the post: State Rep. Joshua Putnam, R-Powdersville.