A Q&A with the first-term District 65 representative
BY JOSH P. CROTZER
Rep. Cody Mitchell is in his first term representing District 65 in the South Carolina House of Representatives, a constituency that lives along the borders of Kershaw, Chesterfield, Lancaster and Darlington counties. He resides in Bethune and is a partner in the law firm of Lucas, White, and Mitchell in Hartsville. He also serves as a major in the South Carolina Army National Guard. Mitchell spent some time with us discussing why he has pursued public service and what he envisions for the future of the rural communities he represents.
What story best tells our readers who you are and what you’re about?
All you need to know about me is that I’m from Bethune. Growing up there, everybody either farmed or worked at the plant. Everybody’s kids went to the same tiny school, and everybody had similar experiences. So, I base everything in my life on the smalltown view that it’s better if we all work together. I don’t care who you are, if you’re willing to work, I’m willing to work with you to try to make things better.
Why did you get into public service?
Former District 65 Representative & Speaker Jay Lucas always fought for our communities. Sometimes, he was the only friend they had. When he announced his retirement, I was worried that if we didn’t have someone who could be that strong voice for Bethune, Kershaw, McBee and Jefferson, they would be forgotten. I want them to know that if they don’t think they have anybody else in the world who cares about them and who will fight for them, Cody Mitchell will.
What is your proudest achievement in that role, so far?
We were lucky to get a little over $100 million for rural infrastructure in our area, mainly for water expansion. That’s generational money that our towns may never see again. Rural water infrastructure in our communities is a real problem. So that’s the proudest achievement, to be able to bring that money back to our communities.
What challenges do the communities you serve face and how can we address them?
Outsiders have figured out what most of us have always known, that South Carolina is paradise. As a result, we have one of the fastest growing populations in the country. The co-ops, the counties, the municipalities and the state all have to work together because these people are coming. We’ve got to be prepared with policies to ensure we can supply power to all these people, that we can build and maintain the safe infrastructure that we’ll need.
What state policies do you think are important to help empower electric cooperatives to maintain reliable, affordable services and bring opportunities to the people we serve?
Of course, there is a huge push for broadband in rural communities and Lynches River Electric has been at the forefront in helping to provide that service by going outside their traditional service territory to reach those that have never had it before. We saw the necessity of that during COVID, with kids at home trying to learn without access to the internet. There will probably be more policies in the next year to support those kinds of initiatives. There are also going to be extension studies and legislation dealing with power generation ability and grid strength as our state energy system is being stretched with our state’s explosive economic and population growth.
This is the first a series of profiles about the legislators that represent Lynches River Electric members in the South Carolina General Assembly.