Tom Rice to focus on roads, jobs in Congress

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Tuesday marked Congressman-Elect Tom Rice's last time serving as chairman at a Horry County Council meeting. Rice said Tuesday he thanks the citizens of Horry County for trusting him as their chairman.

"I have enjoyed serving as chairman to their county council that I can hardly find words to thank them for the trust that they've placed in me. I feel like we've made a positive impact in the two years that I've been chairman of county council," Rice said.

Rice will serve on three committees once in Congress: The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, The Budget Committee and The Small Business Committee.

Rice said some of his priorities once in Washington will be to focus on Economic Development, to push for funding to dredge the Georgetown Port and to move forward with Interstate 73.

"When you've got a tourist area like ours, which is among the top 10 in the country, 14 million coming in here every year, 90% of those 14 million [are] driving in here. 75% of them [are] coming off I-95. It's amazing we don't have a road already," Rice said.

Vice President of the North Strand Democratic Club Roberta Kuntz said she hopes Rice focuses on healthcare issues once he gets to Congress. Kuntz specifically mentioned South Carolina doctors not accepting patients with Medicare or Medicaid.

Rice said he hopes to elevate everyone's life in the 7th Congressional District, not just a particular party.

"Horry County has one of the lowest wages in the country. We've got a hell of a lot of work to do. I make no distinction based on party lines or racial lines or any other lines. I wanna work on fundamental things to make everybody's life better," Rice said.

Rice touched on the recent push for stiffer gun control laws, stating he doesn't believe the guns are the issue.

"Certainly Newton. What they've experienced is almost beyond comprehension, a horrific circumstance. But I don't think the gun laws are the problem. I think mental health issues are very very complex and difficult but it's something we're gonna have to deal with because it seems we're suffering more and more," Rice said.

Rice announced his official resignation from Horry County Council at Tuesday's meeting. His last day serving as chairman will be Dec. 31. Rice will be sworn into Congress on Jan. 3, 2013

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