Much has been said about Rod Shealy, Sr. and The New Irmo News in the past and I wanted everyone to have a chance to read his most recent column.

When I first ran for office, many of my friends and neighbors questioned why I would have someone who is “anti-schools” run my campaign. For starters, Rod was the only political consultant out there willing to stick his neck out for me. The others I contacted were scared of the “800 lb. gorilla” I was up against and said they “couldn’t risk helping me” even though they may have wanted to and wished me well in my efforts.

Next, when it comes to running campaigns, he’s one of the best! He’s been in the business for years and has worked closely with, among others, Lee Atwater. While he’s known for “winning at all costs”, he managed to run a clean, positive campaign for me and agreed to let me sign off on our materials. (Note: most consultants prefer to have autonomy and do things their way. To have someone with Rod’s credentials defer control to me, the candidate, was a huge step for him to make).

Mainly, Rod’s just an interesting character (as can be seen in the photo above and through his writings). I have NEVER seen him not wearing a Hawaiian shirt. (Is that sentence grammatically correct? Double-negative police, look out!) We rarely talk issues because his role is a campaign consultant. Consultants give advice on how to win campaigns – not how to vote.

While many viewed him as a lightening Rod, I viewed him as a campaign consultant first and a newspaper/businessman second. Like most people, I too can “read into” almost anything I want to and justify or rationalize what I think is actually going on. As he mentions in his column, his paper (as most journalistic mediums do) tries to be neutral. In our community though, we have so many people sharing opinions that inevitably if “one side” speaks more than another and the paper prints those – the paper appears slanted/biased.

Tomorrow’s a big vote in our community and with as much grief as he and The New Irmo News has caught in the past for being “anti-schools”, I think his column this week puts that to rest.

One thing we all learn early in life: don’t judge a book by its cover! If you did that in Rod’s case, you’d never get past Margaritaville!