Mt. Pleasant Town Council: Candidates speak on issues facing town

Local News

MT. PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – As Election Day quickly approaches, News 2 spoke with several candidates running for Mt. Pleasant Town Council. There are four open seats and 11 candidates.

Gary Santos and GM Whitley are both seeking reelection while Tom O’Rourke and Kathy Landing are not seeking an additional term. Landing is running for Mt. Pleasant Mayor against Incumbent Will Haynie.

The candidates for town council are listed below in alphabetical order:

  • Kevin Andrus
  • Jason Daley
  • Gary Davis
  • Lee Dittrich
  • John Iacofano
  • Myra Jones
  • Carl Ritchie
  • Gary Santos
  • Shari Sebuck
  • GM Whitley
  • Robert Yarbrough

The candidates spoke with News 2 about their campaigns and how they would serve the people of Mt. Pleasant.

Jason Daley

Why do you want to serve on Mt. Pleasant Town Council?

“I retired out of the military after 20 years of active duty service and after I was retired for a while, I felt like I wasn’t done serving the people. I looked to where I fit best when it comes to serving the people and the town council, to me, fits me most because the town council and the mayor have the single most direct influence on your day-to-day lives. Serving the people, for me being in the military as long as I have, I felt like that was the area where I need to be to continue to serve the people.”

Daley believes his vast and expansive experience in the military working as a liaison for governments all over the world makes him a unique and qualified candidate to serve on council.

What do you believe is the number one issue facing the Town of Mt. Pleasant and, if elected, how would you address it?

“The infrastructure here in Mt. Pleasant. The roads, the sidewalks, the bike paths. They, I feel like, weren’t very well maintained with all of this explosion in the residential and commercial growth. Going forward, we really need to start focusing on making our infrastructure better. There’s some infrastructure that can’t be fixed per se, but it can be improved. And then all future infrastructure with these new developments that are being done, there needs to be clauses int these applications that they will fund these roads and sidewalks and bike paths and ensure that there’s proper easements for all this to be done because that’s what part of the issue is that all of these developments were done without the proper easement being allotted for the roads to be expanded.”

Daley says, if elected, he would also work towards preserving the beauty and charm of the town, creating new green space, and increasing support for first responders.

Click here to view Jason Daley’s campaign website.

Gary Davis

Why do you want to serve on Mt. Pleasant Town Council?

“I’ve lived here for a long time and I just don’t like the way things are going right now. I’m on the town planning commission right now. I’ve been on that since 2019. So being on the planning commission, I have a lot of insight into what’s going on in the town and I don’t like the way we’re headed. We have traffic problems, we have overbuilding, we have taken down all the trees and the green spaces are just being decimated. I feel that I have a very strong executive background. I’m used to dealing with and solving complex problems and I’ve been in business for a very long time. Very successful businesses. And I don’t like the way Mt. Pleasant is headed right now and I think we need to put the breaks on the expansion. I think we need to be more protective of the environment. I’m willing to devote my time to try and improve the quality of life in Mt. Pleasant.”

What do you believe is the number one issue facing the Town of Mt. Pleasant and, if elected, how would you address it?

“The number one problem right now, it relates to overbuilding and decimation of our green spaces. If I’m elected, I’m going to put in stricter building controls. We just need to stop and pause for a while until if and when our infrastructure can keep up with the growth.”

Click here to view Gary Davis’ campaign website.

Lee Dittrich

Why do you want to serve on Mt. Pleasant Town Council?

“I’ve been a law enforcement officer for 25 years of which my last two years were with the Mt. Pleasant Police Department and this would just be a continuation of that public service. I’ve gotten a great insight into how Mt. Pleasant Town Hall operates and I feel that I could be a great asset just with sitting on a different side of the table now after leaving the police department and continuing my service on town council.”

What do you believe is the number one issue facing the Town of Mt. Pleasant and, if elected, how would you address it?

“The biggest issue right now would probably be our public safety crisis involving our police and fire departments. There are a number of issues that go beyond wages, though. There’s some internal cultural issues that are contributing to the exodus of our first responders.”

Dittrich says there are small changes that could be made to increase quality of life for first responders that won’t cost any money to the town including changing policies, schedules, and more.

Dittrich also touched on traffic and infrastructure issues as well as obstacles for small businesses in town.

Click here to view Lee Dittrich’s campaign Facebook page.

John Iacofano

Why do you want to serve on Mt. Pleasant Town Council?

“You learn more about the town and how dynamic it is and how much more involvement we need from the residents of the town. I don’t think there’s enough of it. I’m looking to take that proactive approach, let the residents know what’s going on before it happens. Before the first brick is laid. That’s when people get upset right? But it’s too late at that point. We need to be very forthcoming with the residents.”

What do you believe is the number one issue facing the Town of Mt. Pleasant and, if elected, how would you address it?

“Obviously growth is the biggest word out there. I think while people are saying ‘stop growth, stop growth, stop growth’ there is growth that is inevitable. We should have smart growth. The right growth,. We should be working together with the businesses. We don’t have enough small businesses here. I know dentists that haven’t opened because of a $100,000 impact fee. Let them get open. Let them be part of a village, part of a community.”

Click here to visit John Iacofano’s campaign website.

Myra Jones

Why do you want to serve on Mt. Pleasant Town Council?

“Last year, when the beach communities shut us out and said we couldn’t go to the beach anymore, I took it as a personal mission. That just wasn’t right. State roads, public beaches. So, I came out of my little paralegal shell and said I’m going to use my skillset and we are going to take this on. I learned at the age of 62 I have a voice and I have some talents. I used my skillset and worked with Senator Grooms and the legislature and was able to get a bill passed. So my community service that I had done over the last 20 years for charities and nonprofits kind of stepped up to the government level. And now that I’ve done that I would like to take my talents and use it for the town of Mt. Pleasant to promote my town and help make some positive changes in my town.”

What do you believe is the number one issue facing the Town of Mt. Pleasant and, if elected, how would you address it?

“Growth. Our town has a wonderful comprehensive plan. It’s a 10-year plan. And in that plan, it talks about how to control growth, but we need to smartly grow. With our tri-county area expected to grow 63% in the next 30 years, we just can’t put our heads in the sand and say ‘no growth, no growth.’ We are going to experience the growth from all the neighboring communities. So we’ve got to learn to mold and morph with that growth to protect our residents, to protect our environment, and to smartly grow. And that includes infrastructure and traffic and businesses and homes. There’s just so much to that.”

Click here to view Myra Jones’ campaign Facebook page.

Gary Santos

Why do you want to serve on Mt. Pleasant Town Council?

“I have been serving the citizens of Mt. Pleasant as their Council Member for 21 years. I have served on every committee at one time or another so I have gained a wealth of knowledge about the town which helps me navigate through tough issues that would otherwise be difficult for our citizens. I enjoy helping our citizens whether it is in Recreation, Planning, Public Services, or any other part of our town.”

What do you believe is the number one issue facing the Town of Mt. Pleasant and, if elected, how would you address it?

“The number one problem is growth-related issues. Rezoning property for heavier uses and Traffic issues including, but not limited to, congestion, stop lights not being aligned with other stoplights and the lack of roundabouts in heavily traveled areas need to be addressed. I worked with SCDOT and Charleston Moves to re-stripe the IOP Connector so more people can ride their bikes and walk/run to the beach. This will eliminate the need for increased vehicular traffic. Finishing our traffic plan including, but not limited to, Billy Swails Blvd, the intersection of Magrath Darby Blvd, and Coleman Blvd will help move traffic more smoothly in that area. Building the Mount Pleasant Way will also reduce the need for vehicles. It will also help us eliminate the exhaust produced by increased vehicle traffic.”

Click here to visit Gary Santos’ campaign Facebook Page.

Shari Sebuck

Why do you want to serve on Mt. Pleasant Town Council?

I’ve lived here for 21 years and have enjoyed living in such a beautiful place. I’ve been involved as a small business owner, I’ve been active in the schools. My kids were born here, involved in sports through the rec department. We’ve seen a lot of changes, a lot of growth and I would like to be a part of the process to keep it beautiful.”

What do you believe is the number one issue facing the Town of Mt. Pleasant and, if elected, how would you address it?

“I think traffic is just a huge, huge issue for everyone. I think that’s also multifaceted. So, there are some things that are approved and waiting to be completed that we need to complete like the walkways, the bike paths, some alternative forms of transportation. We need to complete The Billy SwailsCconnector, some people call it the Sweetgrass Parkway, but we need to complete that. A lot of the growth with housing has come up north towards Awendaw. Mt. Pleasant is very built out and we need to bring some of the live, work, play type of living to the north end of Mt. Pleasant. They don’t have any grocery stores, they have very few services up there.”

Click here to view Shari Sebuck’s campaign Facebook page.

GM Whitley

Why do you want to serve on Mt. Pleasant Town Council?

“It’s been an honor to serve my community for the past four years and I was looking for a way to best serve my community using my skill set and I think that council is really the best way for me to do that. I am an engineer turned lawyer turned stay-at-home mom and now councilmember and it’s been a great way for me to implement the three areas of focus that I’ve had which have been public art, community engagement, and restricting growth.”

What do you believe is the number one issue facing the Town of Mt. Pleasant and, if elected, how would you address it?

“I think the number one problem that continues to face the town is the increased pressure to urbanize Mt. Pleasant. Nobody wants 80-foot tall apartment complexes throughout the town of Mt. Pleasant. No one wants to add an additional 40,000 people to our footprint. I think that the council needs to really focus on maintaining this low percentage of growth in the town. Limiting it to 2% like we did with permit allocation and a restriction or a moratorium on building apartment complexes.”

Click here to view GM Whitley’s campaign website.

We were not able to reach the remaining three candidates.

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