Town Council Candidates

  • Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Kowbeidu

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Ben Bryson

Age: 48

Political experience: Never held elected office; Currently serve on the Mount Pleasant Board of Zoning Appeals and the Charleston County Board of Assessment Appeals


If elected, how long are you prepared to serve?

I am prepared and would be honored to serve my neighbors in Mount Pleasant for two terms, should they elect me twice.


What life experience(s) do you think voters in Mount Pleasant should know about you? From owning and operating a small business in the Town of Mount Pleasant, I know exactly how town government can get out of the way and free small businesses to grow our economy. More importantly, in my opinion, I know that Mount Pleasant needs to do a better job recruiting new businesses to the town.

My service on the town’s Workforce Housing Advisory Committee and the Board of Zoning Appeals gives me a true understanding of the inter-workings of town government. For the latter and for my service on the Charleston County Board of Assessment Appeals, I have a proven record as a taxpayer-watchdog - always voting against tax increases.

Furthermore, my attendance at 80 percent of all town council meetings and 60 percent of all committee meetings over the last four years is significantly greater than that of any other candidates (and some current council members). Lastly, my business and personal commitments afford me the opportunity to have the necessary time to serve effectively as a town councilman.


New candidates - How would you vote on top issues? As councilman, I would vote with the taxpayer and the taxpayers’ money in the forefront of each vote. As I have done on the two government boards I serve, where I have always voted against tax increases, I would fight for our neighbors as a true, fiscally conservative watchdog.

On infrastructure and capital improvement projects, I would vote and advocate the ordering of said projects according to business and economic development and improvement to the residents’ quality of life.

I would vote and advocate for fiscal responsibility to ensure reliable revenue sources to properly fund future infrastructure projects and the exceptional core government services we currently enjoy.

And, I would vote and advocate for doing business within Mount Pleasant easier for small businesses. As a small business owner and board member of numerous business organizations, I understand how taxes, fees and regulations - particularly on the municipal level - hold businesses back. I will work strongly to not only make doing business in Mount Pleasant easier, but also to promote this improvement to existing and new businesses.


Do you approve of the 2009-2019 Comprehensive Plan and the vision for our town over the next decade? I generally approve of the Comprehensive Plan. However, I would like to see some site-specific zoning for workforce housing, so we can attract more economic growth directly from new developers and builders. I would like to see and advocate for more intelligent, infill development.


Mount Pleasant has been a leader in the design of a comprehensive bicycle and trail system. Are there any plans to go from a great design to an actual funding plan? If Charleston County gets a funding source for transportation and a portion comes to Mount Pleasant, will the new leaders commit to a portion of these funds going to the bicycle plan? There was a tremendous, missed opportunity by not integrating more bicycle and trail systems into the recently completed road projects. When elected and if Charleston County gets the necessary funding source to complete, I would support completing such systems to increase the quality of life we currently enjoy.


Will you be vocal towards the Charleston County School District in making decisions that affect our community directly? As councilman, I will be a vocal leader and fighter, should it be necessary, for our children and families, particularly as it relates to providing them the necessary resources and facilities for education. I will work with other town officials and staff to ensure that the Charleston County School District completes the new Jennie Moore and Laing Middle School campus on Hamlin Road. I will also work with the town to advocate that the school district works to make the 20 acre site in Carolina Park ready for a new elementary school.

Elton Carrier

Age: 70


Political experience: Elected to Mount Pleasant Town Council in 2009.

If elected, how long are you prepared to serve? This will be my final term on council if elected.


What life experiences do you think voters in Mount Pleasant should know about you?: Graduate of The Citadel; 40-year Mount Pleasant resident; 38-year member and resting elder at Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church.


For incumbents, what is your voting record for top issues: I am a fiscal conservative. I don’t support projects that do not benefit the entire community. I am a protector of our financial reserves for unseen events.

I favor development when it fits the zoning and master plan objectives. I favor new big box retail at Carolina Park where the acreage has been provided. I support the 70percent-30 percent ratio of residential to multi-family housing units. I believe in improving roads where traffic congestion, access and movement are detrimental to a community.

Do you approve of the 2002-2009 Comprehensive Plan and the vision for our town over the next decade? Yes, it was well conceived with community input and is always subject to adjustments. The next 10 years will be challenging and the plan will need to be updated as we grow.


Mount Pleasant has been a leader in the design of a comprehensive bicycle and trail system. Are there any plans to go from a great design to an actual funding plan? If Charleston County gets a funding source for transportation and a portion comes to Mount Pleasant, will the new leaders commit to a portion of these funds going to the bicycle plan? The town has been instrumental in completing our section of the (Battery 2 Beach) bicycle project. We will do more once Ben Sawyer Boulevard is widened. Unfortunately not all of our connector roads are wide enough to include bike lanes. This will be a priority of mine as we move forward with road improvements as funding becomes available.


Will you be vocal towards the Charleston County School District in making decisions that affect our community directly? Yes, one of my goals if elected is to see our council unified in supporting a funding source needed for schools countywide including three new schools in Mount Pleasant, including a new high school in as short a timeframe as possible.

Paul Gawrych

Age: 50


Political experience: 12 years on Town Council, Mayor Pro Tem 2009 – 2011.


If elected, how long are you prepared to serve? We all have different ideas and life experiences that we believe will help lead if elected to council. I think as long as one can actively serve, be productive and make a difference for all of Mount Pleasant in a non-partisan, town wide format, several terms are sufficient. If someone does not like my solutions to problems or my voting records then they should not re-elect me.


What life experience(s) do you think voters in Mount Pleasant should know about you? I am a lifelong resident of Mount Pleasant, a graduate of Wando and both of my children are. I attended the Promise Keepers gathering in Washington D.C. in 1996 and it is there where I began my calling to serve my community and have so ever since. I have been happily married to my wife Zoe for 25 years. We lost our first child at birth to a rare birth defect and I had the incredible opportunity 11 years ago to hold my momma’s hand as she passed on to Heaven.


For incumbents - What is your voting records for top issues? During my years on council, I worked with three mayors and I believe we met many goals while enhancing our quality of life. We are now seeing the benefits of the widening of Highway 17 and the continued progress on connecting roads between Highway 17 and Rifle Range Road. Some of these projects took six to seven years of relentless work with local and state officials. We acquired land along Shem Creek which has provided public access to our waterways with a dock and park, and the second phase will be starting soon to continue to connect all of the docks so one can walk from end to end on each side. We worked together with the Charleston County School District with my idea of a Blue Ribbon Committee of citizens to improve schools and build new ones as well and this is something I will work to re-establish if elected. I established the CRO zoning that protects all of our neighborhoods with golf courses in that the golf course owners must get approval from the town prior to changing the golf course and the surroundings. The most important vote on anything though is to make sure it is in the best interest of all of Mount Pleasant. Case in point, it is well known our town elections have a small voter turn-out; as an elected official you must become a very good listener to not only what is being said, but more importantly what is not being said, as again, you must discern what is best for all of our 70,000 plus citizens.


New candidates - How would you vote on top issues? I bring common-sense solutions to problems and everything that comes before me has had and will have the best interest for all of Mount Pleasant. This same process of common-sense solutions has been a success in my personal life and as a small business owner. I will definitely support building more schools and will go to work right away on getting a second high school built. I will also work to finish all of our planned and unplanned interconnecting roads to continue to provide a grid that offers options for traffic flow.


Do you approve of the 2009-2019 Comprehensive Plan and the vision for our town over the next decade? I’m supportive of the comprehensive land management plan and our vision for the next decade, however it should be noted it is a plan and it is not something we should obligate future councils to decisions we make today. We must also be mindful of provisions for adjustments to the plan based on the ever-changing economy and the needs of the community.


Mount Pleasant has been a leader in the design of a comprehensive bicycle and trail system. Are there any plans to go from a great design to an actual funding plan? Second part question, if Charleston County gets a funding source for transportation and a portion comes to Mount Pleasant, will the new leaders commit to a portion of these funds going to the bicycle plan. Everyone should note the great strides we have made in the past six years with bike lanes (frontage roads off of JDB, Hungryneck, Coleman, Hospital Drive to name a few). We have become a leader in the design of bike lanes, incorporating them and establishing the comprehensive bicycle and trail system. Several years back I reached out to Charleston Moves and brought them to the table to have a voice. We have funding in place now to improve the hiker biker trail on Ben Sawyer, to complete the bike lanes on Coleman, which is all part of the Battery to Beach or B2B project, the name of which I came up with. I will most definitely continue to seek funding from Charleston County and the state to steadily enhance our bike and trail system, we are all in this together.


Will you be vocal towards the Charleston County School District in making decisions that affect our community directly? While on council, I led the way to forming a Blue Ribbon Committee made up of parents, business and community leaders and teachers past and present, to develop strategies and better communication to deal with school issues that impact east of the Cooper. I will re-commission that group or a smaller version and challenge them to work with the CCSD to develop growth/building plans so families will know what to expect before they buy their next home. In addition I will encourage this group to make the reality of a second high school their number one priority. My wife, Zoe, has been a public school teacher for more than 20 years and currently teaches at Pinckney Elementary and I hear every day their challenges and successes and those of parents trying to maintain a high quality of school that meets the needs of their children.

Timm W. Gipe

Age: 66 years old


Political experience: Served on Mount Pleasant Town Council from 1981 to 1983


If elected, how long are you prepared to serve? I intend to serve out the full four year term when elected by the voters of Mount Pleasant. I will re-evaluate my ability to serve after this upcoming term. I do not intend to serve more than eight years (two terms).


What life experience(s) do you think voters in Mount Pleasant should know about you?

As a former councilman, local realtor, former president of the The Charleston Trident Association of Realtors, former president of The Charleston Citadel Club, former president of the South Carolina Saltwater Sport Fishing Association and former president of The Metro Exchange Club.


New candidates - How would you vote on top issues? I would support measures to update aging infrastructure projects, continue to keep our town safe, promote business and economic development and accommodate new growth in a responsible manner. This means I would vote in favor of new transportation projects, recreational facilities development and completing plans for rebuilding our town hall. I would vote to keep fees and taxes low while looking to annex existing areas to diversify our town’s tax base.


Do you approve of the 2009-2019 Comprehensive Plan and the vision for our town over the next decade? The comprehensive plan covers many different issues relating to the town and I agree with most of it. As a member of council I would like to work with residents on a case by case basis as these measures come before council. We have a town administrator that is second to none in Eric DeMoura and a planning department that is nationally accredited. They know exactly what they are doing and I would work tirelessly to be a voice for residents and communicate needs and address challenges with the members of the town staff on their behalf. There are challenges that will arise over the next four years that will need to be addressed as we continue to grow but communication between the folks at town hall and our residents is the most important part of what makes a great town.


Mount Pleasant has been a leader in the design of a comprehensive bicycle and trail system. Are there any plans to go from a great design to an actual funding plan? If Charleston County gets a funding source for transportation and a portion comes to Mount Pleasant, will the new leaders commit to a portion of these funds going to the bicycle plan.

I know that there is a plan in place specifically when we are updating and building new roads to incorporate those spaces and bike lanes for residents who ride. I am willing to work with the town’s staff and other members of council to assist in finding grants that are available. I think the best way is to work with the Deptartment of Transportation when we are building these roads and work with county council for funding measures when they are available.

I know that I would be in favor of these funding measures. Anything we can do to alleviate the burden of traffic on our main thoroughfares and highways will be better for us in the long run. We are growing and with that growth comes high traffic volume during prime commuting hours. If someone wants to ride their bike, I want to make sure they have that opportunity without being on a main road with automobiles if possible.


Will you be vocal towards the Charleston County School District in making decisions that affect our community directly? I will look to build on existing relationships and voice the concerns of citizens directly with our school board administration. I would like to work with the members of council and the mayor in order to promote and see a second high school built for the area east of the Cooper for our next generation of students. We are currently overcrowded due to growth in our area and it is our responsibility as involved citizens to help make this possibility a reality to continue to have the best schools in the state.

Anthony Kowbeidu

Age: 49


Political experience: None


Community Involvement: East Cooper Community Outreach; Helping Hands; Pastor-in-Charge St. Andrew’s Church plant in Goose Creek; Lowry Community Service Leadership Award; William A. Griffin Scholarship Award to study in the Holy Land; Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society;, Save Our Sons and Daughters;, Detroit, Mich. Outstanding Peace Work; Outstanding Young American – Man of the Year; All American Scholarship.


Professional Affiliations: Diocesan Leadership: Member of Standing Committee of the Diocese of the Carolinas; Member of the Visiting Committee, The School of Theology, The University of the South; Member of the Commission of Ministry; Board Member, York Place, The Episcopal Home for Children,; Diocesan Council


If elected, how long are you prepared to serve? Two terms maximum


What life experience(s) do you think voters in Mount Pleasant should know about you? I oversee local and international ministries at St. Andrew’s Church in Mount Pleasant. As such, I have worked with both local community organizations and international institutions. I have worked to be the voice of the voiceless, those whom often times are forgotten. I have a track record of championing the cause of the people. If I am elected, I will work even harder for the town and all of its residents. I am convinced that my experience and involvement in the community have prepared me for this task.


New candidates - How would you vote on top issues?

I will vote in favor of the transportation project (the resurfacing of our roads). I will vote in favor of quality and positive growth of the town. I will work in favor of keeping our municipal fees right about the same as they are.


Do you approve of the 2009-2019 ComprehensivePlan and the vision of our town over the next decade? I approve of the Comprehensive Plan and the vision for our town over the next decade.


Mount Pleasant has been a leader in the design of a comprehensive bicycle and trail system. Are there any plans to go from a great design to an actual funding plan? Yes, the capital improvement budget has addressed the bicycle and trail system.

Yes, I will vote in favor of committing a portion of these funds to the bicycle plan.


Will you be vocal towards the Charleston County School District in making decisions that affect our community directly? As a father of two children who could be affected by these decisions, I will be very vocal.


Gary K. Santos

Age: 54


Political experience: 13 Years on Mount Pleasant Town Council. Elected in 1996 and re-elected in 2000 and 2004. Responsible for enacting ordinances, resolutions and policies for the town’s departments including, but not limited to, fire department, police department, recreation department, public services department, legal department, planning and development department, administrative services department, judicial department, bids and purchases department and personnel department; review and approve the following: annual budgets, capital improvements projects, comprehensive plan including the transportation elements and land use elements, master plan for recreation, annexation requests, building codes and impact assessments, etc.

Committees: past chairman or member of personnel committee, fire committee, bids and purchases committee, police, judicial and legal committee, recreation committee, planning and development committee, transportation committee, water supply committee, public services committee, budget committee of council and economic development advisory board. member of the Blue Ribbon Committee on Growth 1999. Coached in the recreation department for 35 years.


If elected, how long are you prepared to serve? Two terms unless the citizens request that I serve longer.


What life experience(s) do you think voters in Mount Pleasant should know about you? As a member of Mount Pleasant Town Council, I helped commit $160 million in funding for capital projects in partnership with state and federal agencies. I was instrumental in the development of funding for more than $20 million in recreation capital projects and the implementation of over a dozen of new recreation programs. I secured the land under the Arthur Ravenel Bridge for the new Waterfront Memorial Park and was named the 2005 Local Government Official of the Year for the State of South Carolina by the South Carolina Parks and Recreation Association, the 2005 Recreation Advocate of the Year by the Charleston Metro Sports Council and a 2011 Volunteer of the Year by the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department. I have a degree in Business Management with an emphasis in Leadership Development from Trident Technical College. I am a graduate and former graduate assistant of multiple Dale Carnegie Courses, a board member and vice president of the Charleston Port and Seafarers Society, an ecumenical society that works with churches, businesses and citizens to assist local and international seafarers who are sometimes away from their homes and families for up to six months at a time.


New candidates - How would you vote on top issues? I am an optimist. However, I do not believe that traffic will get any better than it is now in Mount Pleasant due to decisions made by the previous town council. By making Johnnie Dodds Boulevard five lanes at Bowman Road instead of six as initially designed, it slows traffic down in this area of Johnnie Dodds. In 10 years, it will be a choking point for traffic going north on Johnnie Dodds. Additionally, increasing the density on Coleman Boulevard with development of the new 65-foot tall building “The Boulevard” and with raised medians, on street parking and additional areas of Coleman Boulevard that are now zoned for 75-foot buildings, traffic has already begun to slow and back up on Coleman. I was the only Town Council Member and current candidate who voted against the Coleman Boulevard Redevelopment Plan due to these issues as well as other issues including, but not limited to, limiting citizens access to businesses on Coleman Boulevard. If elected, I will immediately call for a citizens committee to review these transportation issues in order to come up with some recommendations to address these issues.

School overcrowding is certainly a major issue. I was a member of the original Blue Ribbon Committee that studied our growth issues and how it adversely affected the schools. After the committee made its recommendations to town council, the Charleston County School District was able to build brand new schools including, but not limited to, Mont Pleasant Academy, Moultrie Middle, Cario Middle, Laurel Hill Primary and Whitsides Elementary schools. If elected, I will use my experience on this committee to work with the Charleston County School District to build another school in the northern part of Mount Pleasant to relieve the overcrowding and begin planning for a second High School.

We need a second senior center in the northern part of Mount Pleasant. As chairman of the town’s recreation committee, I was involved in every meeting relating to the development and building of our new senior center. As our senior population continues to grow, we need to build another senior center in the northern part of town to serve the citizens in that area.

When I left town council in 2009, our recreation department had continuously won various awards including, but not limited to, the number one recreation department in the state. However, since that time, our recreation department has not won that award again. If elected, I will work aggressively to regain our status as the number one recreation department in the state and work to establish various recreation programs that serve all of the citizens of Mount Pleasant including, but not limited Masters (seniors) programs, Adult programs and Children’s programs.


Do you approve of the 2009-2019 ComprehensivePlan and the vision of our town over the next decade? I was on town council when the 2009-2019 Comprehensive Plan was established. Town staff did an excellent job putting this document together and I do approve of it. However, as this is a living, breathing document, it is subject to change as the town grows. However, I believe that there should only be important reasons to consider any change and would be against any changes unless it was critical to the development of the town.


Mount Pleasant has been a leader in the design of a comprehensive bicycle and trail system. Are there any plans to go from a great design to an actual funding plan? If Charleston County gets a funding source for transportation and a portion comes to Mount Pleasant, will the new leaders commit to a portion of these funds going to the bicycle plan. As a bicyclist, I enjoy the fitness and health benefits that bicycling offers. I would certainly support a funding plan for bicycling. I would also support, if Charleston County is successful, that a portion of the transportation funds go toward the bicycle plan and would encourage our citizens to enjoy the benefits that bicycling has to offer as well.


Will you be vocal towards the Charleston County School District in making decisions that affect our community directly? Yes. I was vocal back in 1999 toward the Charleston County School District. We pushed hard for new schools and were able to get multiple schools built to relieve over crowding. If elected, I will again work hard to get the Charleston County School District to begin building a new school in the northern part of Mt. Pleasant to help relieve the overcrowd schools as well as review all of the schools to see if there are any that need expansion as well.

Mark Smith

Political experience: East Cooper Republican Club, President; South Carolina Advisory Council on Aging, appointed by Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell


Community Involvement and Professional Affiliations: East Cooper Republican Club, President; Lowcountry Food Bank, Immediate Past Chairman of the Board; Rotary Club of Charleston, past president and member; Water Mission International, Two International Mission Trips; Alzheimer’s Association of South Carolina, past vice president and Longtime Board Member; Lowcountry Senior Network, member; Camp Happy Days and Special Times, former board member; S.C. Aging in Place Council, chairman; Charleston Southern University, Board of Visitors; South Carolina Advisory Council on Aging, appointed by Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell


If elected, how long are you prepared to serve? I believe there is a natural term limit vehicle in place that I fully support and take an active role in, it is called elections – where the voters decide whether or not you are still an effective representative on their behalf.


What life experience(s) do you think voters in Mount Pleasant should know about you?

Owning a small business and serving in the Mount Pleasant community have given me some valuable insight and experience that will help guide me as a member of the Mount Pleasant Town Council. As a small business owner, I understand firsthand the challenges facing companies that want to grow here in the Lowcountry. And as the co-owner and vice president of McAlister-Smith Funeral Homes and Palmetto Cremation Society, I understand the hard work that goes into earning a paycheck. My employees work hard and pay enough in taxes. If elected, I am committed to helping make sure the town council is working with small businesses, rather than against them.

Second, my wife Elayne and I, like all Mount Pleasant families, want the very best for our children. I believe decisions made by elected officials should always be made with respect to the impact on families.

In raising our boys, we have seen the benefits the Mount Pleasant school system has provided to our children.

As part of this experience, I have also seen the importance of having a strong community dedicated, right here in Mount Pleasant, comprised of small local businesses as well as longtime Mount Pleasant families and new families, to fostering a sense of community for my family.

And we have all benefited from the safe streets and neighborhoods that we are able to raise our children in. Finally, I would also add that through my leadership positions with many local non-profits throughout our community, I have not only realized and appreciated the value of the dollar but also gained an acute awareness and understanding of how to do much more with less. The norm while serving as chairman of the Lowcountry Food Bank was to constantly find creative and innovative ways to continue or often times expand needed services like feeding at-risk hungry children, families and seniors services while funding and revenue sources were constantly being cut.

As Mount Pleasant continues to grow, recognizing and understanding these positives and opportunities while also acknowledging the challenges growth poses on these benefits, will be critical in addressing Mount Pleasant’s future. I have seen, and my family and business have enjoyed, the great quality of life provided by Mount Pleasant.

Joseph Wren

Age: 43


Political experience: None


If elected, how long are you prepared to serve? I would not serve more than two terms as we have many capable and qualified people in our community who also can contribute on town council.We are a better community when everyone is involved and all demographics have a seat at the table.In my view, we should have term limits on local, state and federal government positions to help alleviate any potential abuses of power or corruption.

What life experience(s) do you think voters in Mount Pleasant should know about you? As a 17 year resident who has school age children and owns a small business here, I represent the typical profile of many Mount Pleasant residents. I want to be our voice on Mount Pleasant Town Council.

New candidates - How would you vote on top issues? Higher Taxes - No; New schools - Yes; Hungry Neck Boulevard to extend to Porcher Bluff Road - Yes;Widening of Highway 41 - Yes;Long-term economic stability plan to include recruiting new businesses - Yes. Creation of Second Senior Center — Yes.


Do you approve of the 2009-2019 Comprehensive Plan and the vision for our town over the next decade? The Comprehensive Plan is collaboration of some of the most respected individuals in our community who have the best of Mount Pleasant at heart. I agree with the plan and to encompass strategies for our rapid growth.


Will you be vocal toward the Charleston County School District in making decisions that affect our community directly?I am the only candidate(and, if elected,on council) whohas elementarypublic school-age children.My wife is a publicschool teacher at Jennie Moore Elementary. So education is a matter very personal to our family andisthe top issue of our campaign. We must alleviate school-overcrowding and be pro-active with the CCSD for a second high school in Mount Pleasant.Mount Pleasant schools are incredible and an economic engine to our community. We must give our teachers, students and engaged parents the resources to continue this success.


Mount Pleasant has been a leader in the design of a comprehensive bicycle and trail system. Are there any plans to go from a great design to an actual funding plan? If Charleston County gets a funding source for transportation and a portion comes to Mount Pleasant, will the new leaders commit to a portion of these funds going to the bicycle plan. My public service includes six years on the board of the Mount Pleasant Land Conservancy where trails, parks and preserving our natural resources has been a passion. Also, I have been involved in numerous activities and leagues through the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department and believe it is one of the best in the state.

One of the leading indicators of great communities is outdoor activities so anything active and outside.

We must help install bike lanes before road development rather than after the fact.

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