Moultrie News forum ‘the event’ of the campaign season
A Mount Pleasant candidate forum hosted by the Moultrie News and The League of Women Voters included all candidates except Carl Carroll, Jr., a Mount Pleasant mayoral candidate.
It turned out to be the event to attend for candidates on the campaign trail.
The forum was designed to allow each candidate four minutes to introduce themselves as well as address various questions previously submitted by readers of the Moultrie News. Only two candidates took the opportunity to poke jabs at their opponents in front of more than 200 audience members.
Mayoral candidate George Freeman made mention of the number of attendees, applauding their concern over who the next leaders of Mount Pleasant will be.
Linda Page, a sitting council member, took the podium first. She relayed her family’s 54 year history in the town. She asked the audience to support someone who stands for “who we want to be” - not just a voice for “what we are.” Page said that the job of mayor is about leading a community, reaching out to citizens and understanding what the vision of a community is.”
She said that reaching across county lines was crucial to decision making.
Ken Glasson, also a sitting council member, said if elected as mayor his role would be to continue to grow the economy. “There is no time for on-the-job training,” he said. He explained that he knows the issues, has been studying them and has been a part of them,” which would be beneficial should he take office.
George Freeman, said there has been a lot of talk about top issues, “but the top issue is about the individuals you elect to lead us in the next four years.” Freeman hopes to create a downtown business district. “We depend on tourism and construction of new homes for our tax base but we need new revenue streams,” he said. He has always stressed a grid system for traffic and promoted the establishment of businesses other than retail.
Joe Bustos, a second time candidate for Mount Pleasant mayor and a former town councilman, said that he will push for open government with fewer executive sessions and have the town attorney justify such sessions. Ecoomic development is also of importance to Bustos, specifically by the airport. But he noted that is crucial to have schools and housing to support that. Bustos added that a second senior center in the upper reaches of Mount Pleasant is also desperately needed. He said he does not believe the town needs a new town hall.
All eight town council candidates appeared, and many emphasized the need to keep pressure on the Charleston County School District to build new schools east of the Cooper.
Joseph Wren emphasized being a good steward of our natural resources. He served on the Mount Pleasant Land Conservancy for six years.
He said if elected he would be a fresh face with new ideas.
Mark Smith answered every question submitted by readers and posted those to his website.
But at the forum he stressed the importance of maintaining quality life in Mount Pleasant. “Traffic, infrastuctre, access and interconnectivity all need to be carefully monitored in all decision making,” he said.
He added that if elected he would donate 100 percent of his council salary.
Gary Santos ran for mayor in 2009. He has also previously served on town council for 13 years.
He touted his voting record, and accomplishments over the years such as helping to obtain the land for Waterfront Memorial Park, the creation of the no smoking ordinance and his lengthy career as a volunteer athletic coach.
He ensured voters he would pay close attention to infrastructure and unbridled growth.
The Rev. Anthony Kowbeidu, clergy of St. Andrews Church, explained that as a child born to two illiterate parents, raised in a home with dirt floors, he is a man who fled civil war in Liberia to come to this country of honey and milk and give. He said America has given him so much that he felt it was his calling to give back.
The three major functions of government and his commitment if elected would be to represent the people, serve the people and protect the people.
After 30 years in the private sector, Timm Gipe wants to return to public service. He served on Mount Pleasant Town Council under Mayor Johnnie Dodds and alongside current Mayor Billy Swails from 1981 to 1983.
He applauded the current council members and the mayor, and says his 40 years of real estate and development experience will be beneficial. Gipe’s campaign promise is to run on his civic and community record.
Paul Gawrych, a Mount Pleasant native, has served previously on town council for 12 years.
Most recently he was mayor pro-tem.
He wants to form a committee of citizens and business leaders to push for construction of new schools east of the Cooper. He said CCSD “missed it by mile” when they agreed to build a school on Sullivan’s Island for 500 students when the need was not there.
“If the district wants to extend the bond we can help get that approved if the language says a new high school and elementary school will be built in Mount Pleasant,” he said.
Elton Carrier is a 40 year resident of Mount Pleasant and a sitting councilman. He is a retired banker and said he would focus his energy on infrastructure repair and maintenance.
Ben Bryson said he has never held elected office but has served on many boards and commissions.
But his future service to the town, if elected would mirror his current civic service. He said his experience has given him a clear understanding of how great the town is and he would work to make even better, to include improving and addressing infrastructure issues, economic development, and be an advocate for education.
Mount Pleasant Waterworks
Dolph Rodenberg grew up in Mount Pleasant. He has been an engineer working with Berkeley County, the North Charleston Sewer District and Charleston Public Works. He said that experience gave him much exposure to water and waste water treatment. He is also a former town council members.
Rick Crosby, and incumbent for past 15 years, said that water is the most essential element of what we have in this town. “We deliver water to your home and pick it up and disposed of it 24/7.”
He said the need to appropriately address aging infrastructure will be a challenge that he is prepared for.
Alys Campaign knows all too much about infrastructure, she said.
“It is hidden from view and most don’t think about it until it is a problem. But that infrastructure is vital to our health and economy and our quality life,” she said.
Campaigne has a Masters Degree in Urban Planning and Public Policy with graduate and professional experience in water quality and management. As co-owner of a consulting firm, Engage Strategies, located in Mount Pleasant, she knows how to balance a budget and manage a growing, successful business.
John Burn a sitting town council member also grew up here and serves a chairman of the Water Supply Committee.
He said he found great interest in the environment and water resources during his time as an ex-officio member.
“I have learned so much about the water and wastewater industry and the effects the services provided by Mount Pleasant Waterworks have on our community today and in the future,” said Burn.
The municipal election will be held Nov. 5 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Voters will choose one mayor, four council members and two waterworks commissioners. Visit www.moultrienews.com for polling places and voter information.