The 121st session of the South Carolina General Assembly began on January 13th. This is the first year of the two-year session. In our next issue, I will provide an update on legislative action at the Statehouse. In the meantime, we will return to our interview series with important leaders from across South Carolina. This issue features Senator Shane Massey from Edgefield, SC. Senator Massey is a member of the Senate LCI Committee which regularly deals with issues facing the building and construction industry.
Matt Niehaus: With session just getting started, thank you for taking time to talk with our members. Let’s start with your back ground, what you did before joining the legislature and what keeps you busy when you are at home in your district.
Shane Massey: I am an attorney and work with a small firm in Aiken –Nance, McCants & Massey. We are primarily a civil defense firm, representing doctors in medical malpractice claims and individuals and businesses who find themselves on the wrong side of lawsuits. I’ve been doing this since 2001, and it’s good for me because I enjoy going to
court and arguing with people (Editor’s note: it doesn’t come across in print, but there was a wry smile on the Senator’s face when he gave this answer). My wife, Blair, and I live in Edgefield with our two young children
MN: It sounds like you are well suited for the deliberative body that is the South Carolina Senate. You were first elected to the State Senate in a special election in 2007. What was it that motivated you to run, and what was it like running in a special election?
SM: I’ve always been interested in politics. I remember my dad taking me with him to vote when I was real young. He let me pull the lever on the old voting machines, and I thought that was the coolest thing. I had a great government and U. S. History teacher in high school, and she really stoked the political flames. When former Senator Tommy Moore resigned in July 2007, it was great timing for me to step up and take a shot.
The special election was fun, but it was easily the most exhausting experience of my life. My district was drawn for a Democrat, and I’m the first Republican to hold it. To do that, though, required a tremendous amount of work and a huge volunteer base. Our race was the only one on the ballot that November. Out of 14,172 votes cast, I won by 138.
MN: As a State Senator, your district covers parts of 5 counties (Aiken, Edgefield, Lexington, McCormick, and Saluda). What is it like to cover such a large territory, and balance the needs of so many different constituencies?
SM: Since our districts were redrawn following the 2010 Census, I have one of the largest districts, geographically, in the Senate. My district now is solidly conservative, but it is pretty diverse in its conservatism: a lot of retirees from up north in McCormick; blue-collar, former mill towns in Aiken; traditional South Carolina in Edgefield and Saluda; and a good mix of native SC and recent growth in Lexington. Representing this area is a fun challenge, but it is some of the best people I’ve ever met. I’m very fortunate.
MN: You clearly have a chance to meet with a wide range of South Carolinians. How do you view the importance of the housing and construction
I remember my dad taking me with him to vote when I was real young. He let me pull the lever on the old
voting machines, and I thought that was the coolest thing.