American history is scattered (scattered and covered, even) with examples of common citizens hearing the call to become more involved. Nathanael Greene, one of George Washington’s most trusted generals, worked at his family’s forge until enlisting in the Continental Army as a private in 1775. Just five years later, he led the American forces chasing the British across the Catawba River on their way to the surrender at Yorktown that gave birth to a new nation. Harry Truman was a farmboy and haberdasher before standing for a local county election on his way to becoming one of the finest statesmen this country has ever known.
I’m blessed with neither the talents of General Greene nor the ambition of Harry Truman, but I hear the call to serve my community. The skill set required to be a legislator is a simple one: absolute integrity, a willingness to make progress by finding common ground, and the knowledge that we have two ears but only one mouth for a reason.
Our legislators tend to come from a pretty homogenous pool. There are several reasons for this, not the least of which is the fact that most folks just plain can’t seek a position that is full time for half the year for a salary that barely surpasses volunteer work. The people of South Carolina end up with a lot of lawyers, retired people, and the wealthy representing them. I’m none of those things. I’m a historian first. American history has been my primary passion since I was a kid, giving me a long perspective on the insight from Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun. I’m a businessman second. My all-encompassing historical fascination helped me build a career authenticating, writing about, and buying and selling historical objects like rare coins, autographs, and related items. Museums, auction companies, and private collectors all over the country have called on my help for more than 20 years. I’m a fellow of the scholarly American Numismatic Society and in 2016, the American Numismatic Association honored me with their Numismatist of the Year award. I buy and sell things, deal with paperwork, weigh risks against rewards, and pay attention to the bottom line.
Long story short: I am able to dedicate myself to this service, willing to do the work, and prepared to listen to the people of this community to best represent their diverse perspectives. The South Carolina General Assembly is dominated by frustrating groupthink, often directed by the special interests who fund the campaigns of people who are always looking out for the next election. I won’t be taking a nickel from corporate special interests. My upbringing taught me you can’t serve two masters. I’m running because the only bosses a legislator is supposed to have are the neighbors who sent him or her to represent them in the first place.
I’m a band dad, a husband, a dog rescue volunteer, a historian, and a small business owner. And I want to be your voice and ears in the South Carolina House of Representatives.
As York County continues to grow and change, it’s important to find new solutions to old problems and face up to new issues with integrity and clear-headed logic. With my background in business and history, I feel well suited to help tackle those issues on behalf of my neighbors, both present and future.
My dad, an immigrant’s son, was a railroad welder who hates idleness so much that he fills potholes on a township road crew despite the fact that he’s almost 80. My mom was a dental hygienist who found a second career with schools and non-profits. They instilled in me the importance of education and integrity, but that nothing propels achievement as much as plain old hard work. The day I graduated from the University of Virginia as the first male Kraljevich to ever earn a college degree, my dad gave me a beat-up tool box full of used tools and offered just one piece of advice: don’t ever forget where you came from.
Now I have my own family, and I try to teach them some of the lessons I’ve learned about hard work, respect, and giving back to the community. Riley, age 11, and Andrew, age 16, attend Fort Mill schools. My wife Megan, a Navy veteran, continues to serve this community as an ER nurse and an active volunteer.
My profession is an unusual one. I turned a childhood hobby and my lifelong love of this nation’s history into a career as a professional numismatist, a specialist in rare coins and currency. Over the last two decades, I’ve achieved some level of notoriety in the field, as a writer for national publications, the author of auction catalogues (including those describing the most valuable collection of American coins ever sold), a consultant to major museums, and a buyer and seller of historical items ranging from George Washington’s autograph to Revolutionary War firearms and pre-Civil War paper money. Spearheading the recovery of the most valuable missing American coin, a rare silver dollar stolen in a home invasion in 1967 that was appraised in 2003 at $5 million, was one of the highlights of my career. The coin was returned to its rightful owner through the joint efforts of the FBI and the American Numismatic Association and was later donated to the Smithsonian Institution.
The community of Fort Mill has blessed my family and me with opportunities to live well and give back. Whether walking the Baxter Trail System to the banks of the Catawba (often accompanied by one of our three dogs: Opie, Lucy, or Jane) or exploring the Anne Springs Close Greenway, we take full advantage of our area’s preserved green space, an oasis amidst the ceaseless growth. Andrew, a junior at FMHS and a trumpet player in their championship marching band, and Riley, a 5th grader at Orchard Park Elementary, have flourished in Fort Mill’s superb schools. Megan and I have volunteered for Halfway There Rescue for years, fostering dogs and cats until they find their forever homes. And I’m grateful to serve the board of the Fort Mill History Museum, helping to spread the word of our community’s fascinating history from the Catawba to the modern day. This area has had a remarkable past, from crossroads to mill village to bustling modern town. I look forward to lending my abilities to help ensure it a promising future.
Please remember that every piece of good news like this for @JoeCunninghamSC has less to do with “trends” or “demographics” or “luck” and more to do with hard work, a great staff, engaged volunteers, and more hard work. http://I0Cz4CEekR
I’m a county party chair. At midnight, I got a FB message from a volunteer who has lost her voice, wondering if she can pick up any extra text banking shifts. Those who think “volunteering” is putting a yard sign out and calling it a day have no idea how hard folks are working. http://JWaCPJYb01