MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – As election day nears, News 2 is sitting down with mayoral candidates for the Town of Mount Pleasant.
Each candidate was given roughly the same amount of time to describe how they feel issues important to Mount Pleasant residents should be addressed.
The first was incumbent Mayor Will Haynie.
Q: How do you sustain quality of life with the level of growth Mount Pleasant is experiencing?
A: You do what we’ve done the last four years. You slow down growth, you invest in your infrastructure, and you make sure that what growth you get pays for growth. When I ran for council and when I was elected mayor four years ago, we had runaway growth. What is have now is, we’ve slowed our residential growth rate down to 2% by using permit allocation, we’ve raised developer impact fees so the residents of our town are no longer subsidizing the cost of the effects on their own infrastructure, which they’ve already paid for. I think the voters are very in favor of that.
Q: How do you balance the proposal to expand I-526 and reduce traffic with managing growth and congestion?
A: One of the mistakes that we have seen in the Lowcountry over the years… Remember when I-526 or the Mark Clark Expressway was going to solve all the traffic problems and we kept growing? Well Mount Pleasant is the only municipality I know of that has said we are going to slow our growth. So they can widen it all they want, and that is not going to make us grow any more than we are right now. And we need to stay on that path and that is why I’m running again.
Q: Will residents be paying more in property taxes or impact fees? Both went up last year.
A: Well, property taxes mainly went up because the valuation of your property went up. And it’s our job to make your largest investment, your home, go up in value. We lowered the rate of the tax that you pay. Yes, you will pay a little bit more: two mils, which is about $60-$80 on a $400,000 home. And that’s going into a lockbox that will pay to fix roads and fix drainage forever so that we can bond money and do our infrastructure improvements. I’m proud of that, I think that’s the right way to do it.
Q: What is being done about affordable housing?
A: Well, we just broke ground on the first affordable housing development in Mount Pleasant in a decade. I’m proud of that, we helped make that happen, it’s being done by the private sector. One of the things that enables affordable housing is the apartment moratorium that I have voted for every time it has come up because it exempts affordable housing. So, if you’re gonna do affordable housing, you don’t have to pay the impact fees, you’re not subject to the moratorium, you can build it. I’m on two regional committees that are helping make that happen, and that’s why the Metro Chamber of Commerce has endorsed me over the other candidates. Because of my work to help businesses, and affordable housing is a business issue. It’s a workforce issue.
Q: Would you like to see the power of mayor changed?
A: Well, you know, I ran for it. We have what is called ‘weak mayor.’ … I do have to sign bond agreements, and you do read it real closely when you sign a $10 million bond issue, I can tell you that. And I sign the laws. But I ran for it and served as a weak mayor, and I’m running for it again. But I think the voters deserve to have a referendum to see what form of government they want. It’s their government. If they change it, fine, if they don’t, fine. I’ve been that way for four years. I’m running for it again as a “weak mayor.” So, let’s see what the voters think.
Q: When you look 20 years down the road, what do you see in Mount Pleasant?
A: I see Mount Pleasant still having its quality of life. We’re protecting that charm that is Mount Pleasant that so many people are attracted to. We will remain a suburban community; we will not urbanize. We’re gonna focus on our people, our economy, and our environment. And I’ve done those things as Mayor.
Candidate Brandon Armstrong previously agreed to be interviewed on Wednesday, but has since declined the invitation.
Candidate Kathy Landing will be interviewed on Thursday.