Ahead of Charleston's mayoral election on Nov. 5, Charleston City Paper has partnered with Lowcountry Local First to ask the six candidates pitching themselves to be the city's leader about specific policies that affect small businesses in our community. Each week through Oct. 16, we'll publish the candidates' responses to one of those questions — to read the rest of the answers, visit charlestoncitypaper.com/llfquestions.
How do you plan to involve residents and the local business community in the decision-making process, and not just those who "show up?" —Vicki Howard, Operations Manager, Charleston Local Development Corporation
Sheri Irwin: I think the city needs to back off on the urbanization and do what they are supposed to do ... mitigate flooding, keep the drains cleaned out, keep the roads in good condition, and welcome new businesses. I am opposed to all this top-down planning. I saw first hand how they tried to get the residents out of their homes two years ago in Maryville and Ashleyville.
Renee Orth: Communication technology must be leveraged to increase public engagement as we — government, business, nonprofits, and We the People — address the climate crisis and its symptom, flooding. Looking at platforms used by other cities to inform citizens about upcoming decisions, share relevant information in a user-friendly format, and gather input from the public is a first and important step. Such technology will be essential as we demonstrate what bold local climate action looks like.
Mike Seekings: We need to bring the City to businesses and residents. As mayor, Neighborhood Services will report directly to me. I will conduct weekly outreach meetings throughout the city that will be digitally interactive and establish an adjunct mayor's office west of the Ashley. Engagement happens online, on mobile, and in person. The city will work across channels — leveraging multiple digital tools and personal outreach — to design a comprehensive communications effort that is focused on residents' user experience.
John Tecklenburg: In this area, outreach is critical, and to that end, we've dramatically expanded the city's web and social media presence, as well as working through our Business and Neighborhood Services division to expand our footprint on the ground. That said, "showing up," as you put it, does matter. We need to hear more from our citizens and business owners, and for that to happen, we need everyone to participate.
Maurice Washington: (no response)
Gary White: I am a business owner. As such, I understand the importance of gathering meaningful input before I make decisions. Additionally, during my tenure on City Council I have learned how important it is to speak directly with our business community to help guide the decision-making processes in our city. As Mayor, I will always proactively reach out to our business community to gain their insight before making any decisions that affect them. Business owners are busy running their businesses. I believe it is my responsibility to reach out to residents and business owners proactively to ensure they are given an opportunity for their voices to be heard.