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.
Q: What is wrong and what is right in Mount Pleasant?
A: There are so many things that Mount Pleasant has going for it. We have low crime, the best schools in the area — and really some of the best in the state — and we also have wonderful people and beautiful venues. So we want to preserve all the things that are going so well. The biggest problem we have by far is traffic congestion, and it’s a multi-pronged problem. We’ve worked hard as a council all together to slow down residential growth, which was really getting out of hand a few years ago. It’s one of the reasons I ran for council, and we did things that we had to do at the time like a permit allocation to slow the rate of growth and stop having such huge track home facilities and so forth. We also did other things like an apartment moratorium but with workforce housing exceptions and actually earlier a senior housing (exception). We now have pretty much plenty of senior housing. What we still have to do is a couple major things. The first is, we need to do a better job of bringing facilities and services and jobs close to where people live. Because when you have sprawl, like we do on the other end of town, the northern end of town, a lot of homes were built with nothing near them, and they’re bereft of a lot of the services people need. So you have to get in the car and drive all the way down to the heart of Mount Pleasant here in the Shem Creek area, or you have to drive to Charleston. So that’s one of the things I’ve been working hard on. We also need to make sure that our financial stability is good for the long term. We’re AAA rated now, we’re in a great position, but that’s partly because of all the growth and impact fees from businesses coming in, we need to make sure we can replace that for the long term.
Q: How do you sustain quality of life with the level of growth Mount Pleasant is experiencing?
A: One of the things people have a little misconception on is that if you bring a business, that that somehow brings more traffic. Actually, if it’s a business that’s missing — for instance, north of the IOP Connector, there’s not a single restaurant for date night. If you want to go out for an anniversary or birthday or special occasion, there’s nowhere to go. So what do you do? There’s 45,000 plus people living there. Of course they go somewhere. So they get in a car and they go south of the connector or in many cases, all the way to Charleston. That longer car trip adds to traffic congestion. If you bring fine dining to that end of town, and family dining, we need a lot of both, then you actually can shorten car trips, bring in business revenue, and also help raise quality of life.
Q: Explain what you mean when you say you want to be a mayor for all of Mount Pleasant.
A: So I believe strongly that those of us who came here a long time ago, like my husband brought us here with the Navy in 1984, those who are natives, that’s wonderful. But there’s folks that just moved here a year or two ago and they want to feel that this is their hometown. They chose Mount Pleasant. We want everyone to feel it. And you can’t just talk about that, you have to purposeful. And a good example of that is what we just did recently where had the first annual Mount Pleasant Police and Firefighters Ball. I was on here last week with Chief Mixon talking about that and it was a smashing success. And the great thing about it is people working together in the community enjoying things regardless of how long they’ve lived here. One other thing I want to mention about facilities — a great example is a senior center. We really want to have a senior center on the north side of town. The one that we have is wonderful, it’s by the hospital, East Cooper hospital, but it’s oversubscribed. There’s so many people and it’s a long drive if you live in Tupelo or Charleston National. So those are another example of things that we need to bring that will really help make life better for everybody and also shorten car trips.
Q: Will residents be paying more in property taxes or impact fees? Both went up last year.
A: No, in fact quite the opposite. I’m very geared towards — because I have a long history with financial planning and a fiscal conservative — I am very geared towards making sure that we bring the businesses and services that we need, and those actually pay business revenue taxes. And if they’re buying property they pay higher property taxes. Which means the rest of us don’t have to have an increase. So we can save a lot of money for the town in the long run and for our residents by simply getting the services we need here.
Candidate Brandon Armstrong previously agreed to be interviewed on Wednesday, but subsequently declined the invitation.