The midterm elections are over, and the voters have spoken at every level of government from local to state and national. As elected officials are sworn in, things may actually begin to feel somewhat normal (at least for a while) without the airways being flooded with all the candidate or party attack ads. 

It is time for political discourse to be based on substance, with a goal toward respectful discussion of diverse ideas – that, incidentally, is what I believe our founding fathers imagined. 

It is time for elected officials at every level to be about the business of making or implementing policy based on principles and serving all of the people – not just those folks who voted them into office in a particular election cycle. 

My view of public service includes providing the highest level of constituent service I can to every resident and citizen of South Carolina who reaches out looking for help with a state issue. 

With the certification of the election results, the House in the coming weeks will hold an organizational session to elect leadership, assign committees, and adopt rules for the upcoming legislative session which starts in January. As I have for the past eight years, I look forward to continuing my service as chairman of a standing House committee. 

In addition to the House organization session, the House Republican Caucus will hold a planning meeting to identify our collective priorities for the two-year session. In keeping with my conservative principles and beliefs of personal responsibility and limited government, I intend to encourage energies be focused on continuing the reduction of the tax burden on individuals, along with increasing reserves and working to reduce or eliminate state debt. 

Further, I remain committed to education reform and intend to advocate for improving conditions in the classroom for our teachers, greater transparency and empowering parents. I look forward to working with the new Superintendent of Education to expand school choice. 

Additionally, I believe that we should and will urge a focus on statewide economic development that includes infrastructure improvements (roads, bridges and broadband). We have made significant progress in the past few years, fixing many roads and bridges, but decades of deficiencies and lack of action require time, attention and resources – not only to keep our citizens and visitors safe, but to make sure South Carolina remains a great place for businesses to locate or expand here. 

We also need to expand and bolster workforce training opportunities and reduce or eliminate job killing anti-business regulations. 

However, one of the most important priorities that I will continue to advocate with my colleagues across the state is the protection of our natural assets. Protecting our sensitive waterways and salt marshes has been a constant during my tenure in public service. As we look toward establishing priorities for the next General Assembly, that vigilance will continue to be on the top of my list. 

Weston Newton is the representative for District 120 in the State House of Representatives.