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Learn more about Bakari Sellers and his vision for the state of South Carolina.

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Lieutenant governor’s race: Sellers vows to make life better for S.C. seniors


(Greenville News) Democratic Lt. Gov. candidate Bakari Sellers visited Greenville Senior Action today to tout his plan for improving transportation services for senior citizens, giving tax relief to caregivers and for long-term care insurance and improving the relationship between the Lieutenant Governor’s Office and agencies such as Senior Action.

Senior Action has complained that policy changes made during the tenure of former Republican Lt. Gov Glenn McConnell have created chaos in the agencies that serve seniors under the federal Older Americans Act.

McConnell stepped down to become president of the College of Charleston and the office is now being headed on an interim basis by former Democratic Sen. Yancy McGill of Kingstree.

Rep. Bakari Sellers, who recently announced a statewide tour of senior centers and assisted living facilities, makes a stop at Senior Action in Greenville to outline ‘Senior Plan.’ MYKAL McELDOWNEY/Staff is attempting to get a response from Henry McMaster, the Republican candidate for the office.

Sellers said the state could pay for the programs he is advocating by eliminating state sales tax loopholes and from money the state will save through the creation of a Department of Administration and money that comes from growth.

“Over the past decade we really haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on” with senior citizen issues, the state representative from Bamberg County said.

If elected, he said he would identify sources of public funding within his first 100 days to develop a statewide senior transportation plan to help older South Carolinians who need rides to doctor’s appointments, church and other daily activities.

He said he would push for a $500 tax credit for caregivers and $350 for long-term care insurance.

He also said he would encourage the governor to create a Senior Fraud Taskforce under the Lt. Governor’s Office on Aging to push for harsher penalties for those who defraud seniors and aggressively target scammers who prey on seniors.

Sellers also said he would update the state’s Alzheimer’s Task Force and work with the Medical University of South Carolina and the technical college system on addressing the disease.

McMaster, a former state Attorney General, has released a plan for the Office on Aging that includes mobilizing nonprofit resources and promoting volunteerism, promoting physical fitness, tax relief for seniors, stopping abuse of seniors and vulnerable adults, increasing effectiveness of senior centers, and retirement planning education.

He also says he wants to use the strategic blueprint developed by McConnell as a basis for his administration of the Office on Aging.



(Before other residents arrive, 95-year-old Dolly Sparks meets Rep. Bakari Sellers, Democratic candidate for lt. governor, during a campaign stop Thursday at Agape Senior Assisted Living North Charleston. Wade Spees/Staff )


(N. Charleston, SC) Democratic Lt. Gov. hopeful Bakari Sellers dropped by North Charleston Thursday to outline his vision for the state’s senior citizens – a rapidly growing part of the state’s population.

Sellers, currently a House member from Bamburg, faces Republican and former S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster on Nov. 4.

Whoever wins also will head up the state’s Office on Aging.

He spoke to about 20 residents and staff members at the Agape Senior North Charleston Assisted Living Center and found some concerns.

One resident, Remona Anders, 76, told him, “We’re worried very shortly the management here is going to come and tell us we have to raise your rates.”

Sellers responded, “That is our fault. For the past year, we have not properly funded places like this.”

Sellers, 29, also talked about his upbringing in rural Bamberg.

Scott Middleton, CEO of Agape, is backing Sellers, who has been touring some of Agape’s 13 facilities across South Carolina. He said the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid -a position backed by top Republican leaders, including Gov. Nikki Haley – could cost the state several thousand healthcare jobs and make it harder for Agape’s residents to find doctors.

McMaster unveiled his plan for seniors early last month, just before his June GOP primary.

The plan, which calls for some of the same things as Sellers’ plan, includes: new efforts to stop abuse of seniors and vulnerable adults; promoting volunteerism and physical fitness; giving larger tax breaks to elderly residents; increasing the effectiveness of the state’s senior centers; and helping residents plan financially for retirement.

South Carolina currently has no statewide elected officials who are Democrats, and Sellers said of his campaign: “This is definitely a David versus Goliath race. … (but) there is nobody who is going to outwork me.”

Sellers was less inclined to contrast the partisan or racial differences in the lieutenant governor’s race but did allude to his being less than half as old as McMaster, 67.

“My race is a clear contrast,” he said. “It’s about whether or not you want to vote for a candidate of yesterday or a candidate who represents the future. It’s not about what South Carolina was or about what South Carolina is. It’s about what South Carolina can be.”

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.


Bakari talks about his “Senior Plan” and other statewide issues with Andrew Kiel on WRHI Radio on his recent trip to York County.



There is no doubt the we are on the move with new fresh ideas for South Carolina and people across the country are taking notice. Governing Magazine has just labeled our campaign one of five “competitive”  Lt. Governor’s races around the country. Read the story:



(Aiken, SC) South Carolina Rep. Bakari Sellers is nowhere near needing senior care, but he’s already mapped out six steps focusing on senior needs.

Sellers, D-Denmark, is currently campaigning for the state’s lieutenant governor seat; and as part of his campaign, he visited the Aiken Area Council on Aging on Tuesday to share his “South Carolina Senior Plan.”

Standing next to the Aiken Area Council on Aging’s Executive Director Scott Murphy and members of the Aiken County Democratic Party, Sellers outlined his six-step plan ranging from expanding the Senior Homestead Exemption to creating a senior fraud task force.

South Carolina residents 65 years and older make up about 15 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census. That number continues to grow, which is why expanding care is so important for not only seniors, but also their caregivers, according to Sellers.

Part of his plan is to expand senior transportation with public and private money with the help of the S.C. Department of Transportation and the Human Services Transportation Committee.

This is a rather important need, Murphy said.

“We have one out of three seniors who are transit dependent,” Murphy said. “Many are trying to reach into the inner city for services; they need access. These are things that will allow them to be independent and stay in their homes, which is a less-costly endeavor.”

Sellers said he also wants to provide tax relief for caregivers who provide in-home senior care, provide home and community-based services for the elderly and expand the Senior Homestead Exemption to give seniors a tax relief when paying their property taxes.

Lastly, Sellers said he wants to transform the Office on Aging into a mouthpiece on behalf of Alzheimer’s patients, their families and Alzheimer’s research.

“We have a great deal of people in our community who care for people going through early dementia, but also care for people who have Alzheimer’s and (are) battling with those diseases,” Sellers said.

Sellers became the youngest serving member of the House of Representatives in 2006.

Sellers will face former Attorney General Henry McMaster in the November general election.

For more information about Sellers’s campaign, visit

Maayan Schechter is the local government reporter with Aiken Standard. Follow her on Twitter @MaayanSchechter.

Read more: Sellers hits six points of need for senior care | Aiken Standard
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Rep. Bakari Sellers responds to Governor’s veto of Senior funding

For Immediate Release:                                     Contact: Bakari Sellers

June 12, 2014                                                   (803) 354-6205


Statement from Rep. Bakari Sellers, Democratic Nominee for Lt. Governor….

“I am disturbed that our Governor has chosen to turn her back on our state’s seniors.  Her veto (number 47) taking away $2 million from the Office on Aging to assist seniors to stay in their homes instead of having to go to expensive nursing homes is a slap in the face to South Carolina seniors.  Her veto message that the Office on Aging is growing too quickly does not hold water.  Our senior population in South Carolina is one of the fastest growing in the nation.  Our seniors want to find ways to age while staying in their own homes, not being placed in the expensive nursing home facilities.  Helping seniors stay in their homes improves their quality of life. It helps seniors, many of whom live on a fixed income, hold onto more of their life saving while also saving taxpayers dollars in the long-run.  I challenge the Republican candidates for Lt. Governor to join me in asking the General Assembly to overturn this embarrassing veto.”

South Carolina lawmakers repeal Election Day alcohol sales ban

admin-ajaxMay 29 (Reuters) – South Carolina is poised to allow alcohol to be sold on statewide election days after state lawmakers voted to lift the country’s last blanket ban on such sales at restaurants, stores and bars.

The state Senate voted 41-1 on Wednesday to repeal the ban, which critics considered an antiquated remnant of an era when saloons sometimes served as polling places. The ban, dating back to at least 1882, was intended to reduce corruption and bribery during elections, according to a state government researcher.

“We wanted to bring South Carolina step-by-step into the 21st century,” said state Representative Bakari Sellers, a Democrat who has been working to repeal the Election Day alcohol ban for eight years.

The measure, which passed the state House in Columbia last month, faced stiff opposition from some legislators who objected on religious grounds, Sellers said. The state Senate tacked on an amendment making it illegal to use, purchase or sell powdered alcohol at any time.

“It’s more of a southern Democratic philosophy, but I truly wish government would get out of our way,” Sellers said. “If you don’t want to drink on Election Day, you know what, you don’t have to drink on Election Day.”

Republican Governor Nikki Haley is expected to sign the law lifting the ban, but it will not take effect until after the state’s primary elections on June 10.

South Carolina is the only remaining state to ban Election Day sales of alcohol outright, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. Alaska and Massachusetts still have bans in place but allow local governments to opt out of them.

South Carolina still has “blue laws” on the books that prohibit sales of liquor on Sundays. The state also bans all alcohol sales on Christmas Day.

Gary Dow owns Charleston’s historic Tavern liquor store, which during the early 20th century’s era of Prohibition, was a fake barbershop used by rum runners for their operations, he said.

He recalled that police shut down his business after he opened it to customers on Election Day in 2004.

Once the ban is repealed, Dow said: “I’ll probably open on Election Day, but I’m going to wait until I actually get something from the state that says I can do that.”

Read more here:

South Carolina’s Ban on Election Day Liquor Sales May Go the Way of Prohibition

DRINK-master675Tony Suh, the owner of Harvard’s Wine and Beverage here, does not know why South Carolina’s government will not let him sell liquor on statewide election days.

He figures it is just one of the many quirks of doing business in this culturally conservative state, in league with his customers’ habit of parking their cars on the far side of the parking lot to avoid the attention of judgmental neighbors.

“I think it’s got to do with being such a Baptist place for such a long time,” said Mr. Suh, 43, who moved to the state from the New York City area eight years ago.

Now it appears that South Carolina’s Election Day liquor law, the last blanket ban in the country, could finally go the way of bathtub gin and the Anti-Saloon League. On Wednesday evening, the South Carolina Senate, following the lead of the lower house, approved a bill to rescind the ban. If the bill is signed by the Republican governor, Nikki R. Haley, South Carolina will join six other states that have rescinded similar laws since 2008, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, an industry group.

That would leave only Alaska and Massachusetts with Election Day alcohol bans, the council noted, although in these states, local governments may choose to be exempt from the prohibition. And it is another step in the nation’s long, slow coming to terms with demon rum and other once-maligned spirits.

Election Day alcohol bans were common throughout the United States in decades past, when politicians’ promises of free drinks played an essential role in many a get-out-the-vote strategy. South Carolina is a state known as much for its political chicanery as it is for its deeply held religious sentiment, and the fear that a crooked politician might buy votes with free drinks is the reason the state government here has clung to its ban for so long. But in the age of the robocall and the “super PAC,” the alarm over the possibility of a ham-handed votes-for-drinks scheme has come to seem downright quaint.

State Representative Bakari T. Sellers, a Democrat who favored overturning the ban, said he was among those exasperated to be wasting 21st-century time on a debate that seems more suited for the age of Woodrow Wilson. “It’s 2014, dude,” he said.

The ban did have its modern-day supporters, however. J. Todd Rutherford, a Democratic state representative who co-sponsored the House bill, said he had introduced similar legislation in previous years, only to have it scuttled by conservative lawmakers.

Mike Burns, a Republican state representative from Travelers Rest, S.C., was one of 20 legislators who voted against a bill in April that proposed lifting the ban. He said that he and the others were “making a statement” about the steady erosion, nationwide, of the state and local “blue laws” that once strictly limited the sale of alcohol for religious reasons.

The Distilled Spirits Council noted that since 2002, 16 states had rescinded bans on the Sunday sale of hard liquor, in whole or in part, with 38 states now allowing it.

“Many states had these laws for many years and, you know, everything has gone by the wayside, day by day, little by little,” Mr. Burns said.

The tradition of plying voters with drinks has deep roots in American electoral politics. In Virginia and other pre-independence Southern colonies, candidates were often expected to supply the libations for voters, said David E. Kyvig, an emeritus professor of history at Northern Illinois University. In the late 19th and early 20th century, political machines in cities like New York and Chicago regularly traded drinks for votes, a practice often denounced by prohibitionists.

The South Carolina ban, according to a legislative analysis of the bill to repeal it, was “rooted in the Prohibition era, when saloons sometimes served as polling stations for elections.”

For a brief period beginning in 1893, South Carolina controlled the distribution of all alcohol sales statewide through a dispensary system that proved to be hopelessly corrupt. P. C. Richardson, a University of South Carolina history professor, noted that in the mid-1800s, South Carolina political factions brought male voters to Columbia, the capital, and held them in cordoned-off “bullpens,” where they plied them with liquor before marching them off to the polls.

Mr. Rutherford and his allies had argued that the ban was not only hopelessly old-fashioned, but anathema to the conservative principle of limited government.

“This means that we take another step out of the Dark Ages and join the rest of the country in being able to go to a package store and buy alcohol on Election Day,” he said Wednesday.

Joe Berry, executive director of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers Association of South Carolina, predictably, is supporting the bill.

In Aiken, Mr. Suh, the liquor store owner, said that retailers like him would stand to earn a little more money if the bill became law. But he also wondered whether a change was worth the trouble.

He had grown accustomed, he said, to taking a day off from work when the polls opened.

Read more here:

S.C. Rep Sellers visits Cordova senior center