Fant Announces Candidacy for State Senate District 7
GREENVILLE, SC – Scores of supporters gathered around long-time community leader Ennis Fant Tuesday as he announced his bid for the State Senate in District 7.
Standing on a raised stage at McAllister Square, which will be inside his district, Fant promised to run a campaign that will transcend racial and socio-economic lines as he seeks the Democratic Party nomination for the seat.
Fant laid out a strategy aimed at being a champion for the disenfranchised in Greenville County by helping to steer more jobs to the Upstate, focusing on better funding for public education and not balancing the state budget on the backs of children, education and the poor.
“We need to do better and we can do better,” Fant told the crowd who responded with heavy applause.
Fant is running for the seat that has been held by long-time State Sen. Ralph Anderson, who has twice told Fant in recent months that he does not plan to seek another term. Fant thanked Anderson for his years of service noting that the esteemed community leader was in Columbia today for the start of session.
A native of Greenville, Fant grew up in Nicholtown and graduated from J.L. Mann High School. He earned a bachelor’s in chemical engineering from the University of South Carolina and his master’s in divinity from Erskine University. He is the senior pastor at Pleasant View Missionary Baptist Church and has served on the Greenville Technical College Board, the Urban League of the Upstate’s Board of Directors, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce Bi-Racial Task Force along with numerous other boards and agencies.
He was named by Greenville Business Magazine as one of the 10th most influential people in Greenville County from 1999-2002. Fant previously served on Greenville County Council from 1984 through 1988, and as a State Representative from 1989 through 1990. Fant ended his second legislative term early after he pleaded guilty as part of Operation Lost Trust. He said the experience humbled him, and knows it was a mistake.
“The tragedy of life is not the mistake, that is part of the human condition,” he said. “The real tragedy is not rising above it and allowing others to rise above it.”
Fant said he has a very specific mission and reason for heading to Columbia. He wants to make District 7, which contains some of the poorest and economically distressed areas of the county, a stronger and more viable place to live.
He praised the efforts of local economic development teams for bringing jobs here, but he said they are being hamstrung by legislators who continue to steer numerous projects away from Greenville. He wants to return Greenville’s power to Columbia.
Fant said a key to creating a stronger economic base in Greenville will come from full funding of public education. The current funding levels represent 1995 numbers, which is not good enough if Greenville wants students who can compete in a global marketplace.
“We need 21st Century education in order to train students for 21st Century jobs,” he said.
Fant’s other major goal is supporting the disenfranchised in the state. More than 230,000 children go to bed hungry every night in South Carolina and more than 1,000 children are dying while on waiting lists because the state does not fully fund Medicaid.
“We have reached a point where getting by is no longer good enough,” Fant said. “This is the time to build a better tomorrow.”