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Guía de Votantes

Sullivan's Island Town Council

The Town of Sullivan's Island is governed by a seven-member Council, including a voting Mayor. The Mayor and Council members serve staggered four-year terms. Municipal elections are held every odd calendar year in May. Council is charged with establishing goals and policies, modifying Town ordinances, approving the Town's annual budget and awarding Town contracts. Voters will choose the Mayor and three Town Council members in 2021.A Candidate Forum was held on Tuesday, April 13. Here is the link to the video of the forum:https://www.facebook.com/163608920102/videos/201109241539207

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  • Candidate picture

    Scott A Millimet

  • Candidate picture

    Justin P Novak

  • Candidate picture

    Gary Visser

Información Biográfica

Why do you want to represent the citizens of the Town of Sullivan’s Island as a member of Town Council?

What experiences qualify you to represent the citizens of Sullivan’s Island on Town Council?

What do you believe are the most important issues facing the Town now and in the future? How would you address them?

In 2020, Town Council negotiated a settlement to an ongoing lawsuit that will require the removal of significant portions of trees and vegetation in the Town’s Accreted Land. What is your view of the settlement in relation to the guiding principle in the Town’s 2019 Comprehensive Plan to maintain and preserve the natural environment for the benefit of islanders and wildlife?

In the Comprehensive Plan, resiliency, sea level rise and stormwater drainage were identified as key issues to be addressed. How would you prioritize and fund resiliency efforts to mitigate the unique set of threats to Sullivan Island’s infrastructure, including: storm surge from sea and marsh; sea level rise; stormwater runoff from heavy rain and flooding events?

What would you propose to improve ingress/egress to the Town during beach season and other peak traffic periods, as well as parking in the commercial district?

What are your views on charging for parking?

Campaign Phone (978) 376-7625
Age 63
Facebook NA
Education Bachelor of Science (cum laude) - Economics - Texas A&M University; Master of Science - Agricultural Economics (International Trade) - Texas A&M University
Experience As the son of a career military officer I was instilled at an early age with the character traits of hard work, commitment, leadership and public service. After receiving both a Bachelor of Science (Economics) and Masters of Science (Agricultural Economics) from Texas A&M University, I embarked on what was to become a highly accomplished career of 40+ years in asset management. My track record is one of building and leading highly successful global businesses. Behind each successful business lies success in building and leading highly effective teams. The factors that led to excellence in the private sector translate seamlessly to serving on the Sullivans Island Town Council. Specifically: Listening, to inputs from a diverse team to ensure highly effective decision-making; Leading with transparency to ensure that no one is surprised by a decision; Executing with efficiency and according to a plan, but with flexibility to make adjustments as necessary. My commitment to community service includes a seat on the Northeast Advisory Committee for Operation HomeFront and serving on the Board of Directors and as Secretary for one of NYC’s largest non-profits – Services for the Underserved.
Candidate Email smillimet@comcast.net
The legal agreement to allow, in fact require, massive cutting of the Sullivans Island Maritime Forest was the spark that led me to initiate a campaign for Town Council. Underlying Maritime Forest council vote was a flawed process (in my opinion) that failed to take into account the voices of large proportion of the voters. The same "process" that led to this unfavorable outcome, if left unchecked, will impact other critical decisions facing the council and the town, specifically the questions of paid parking, infrastructure improvements, and the allowance for additional docks that may stretch for hundreds of feet into protected marshes. I have the leadership and consensus building skills that will lead to decisions and outcomes that help bring our Island Home closer together. The key decision-making element that I will bring to the Council is the implementation of a process that includes the voices of the constituency that puts council members in office.
I spent over 40 years in the asset management field, supervising and leading successful businesses, building diverse teams and focusing on mentoring others in building their own successful careers. Central to my expertise is a proven process for first defining success and then making well-informed decisions that ensured success was achieved. I would like to bring this proven decision-making process to help Sullivans Island come together, get itself on solid financial footing, and build a base for our financial future.

Critical to success in any endeavor are a series of key factors: set goals that meet the interest of the stakeholders; provide a platform for, and seek a diverse set of inputs; make decisions based the best available information, and always act with transparency and respect. This is what I plan to bring to Sullivans Islands town council, and by doing so, bridge the divide that exists amongst us.

My mantra: Listen. Lead. Execute.
There are a number of issues facing Sullivans Island in the immediate future, all of which fall into the category of maintaining the unique character and livability of our Island home. Progress is inevitable – but it does not have to come at the expense of those factors that lend themselves to the character of Sullivans Island. It is why people seek to live here and not other barrier islands.

The Maritime Forest – the legal decision to massively deforest and cull the Maritime Forest cannot be wholly reversed. However, working together with conservationist organizations, with the regulatory authorities and the Corps of Engineers, the initial plan could potentially be amended to mitigate cutting in some areas and possibly allow replanting in others. It is a shame compromise was not more actively sought prior to this unfortunate result. The arrival at this outcome was due to a deficient process in which members of the council neither sought input from town residents, nor provided input when asked. That process cannot persist or Sullivans Island will no longer be the special place it is at this time.

Other key issues facing the Town are the allowance of paid parking and infrastructure improvements, which are address by specific questions below.

Three matters that are not addressed separately are the allowance of additional docks on the backside of the island, increasing the number of short term rental permits and the preservation of historic structures and landmarks.

I am not in favor of allowing additional docks on the Island. When properties are purchased, owners should be aware of the restrictions on their properties. To buy a property and then seek regulatory relief is disingenuous. Once a single additional dock is permitted there maybe no way to restrict others, resulting in a potential change in the character of the marshlands that currently benefits not only residents, but visitors and boaters as well. More broadly, the rules governing building codes on the island as a whole must be levied with consistency and impartiality.

I am not in favor of increasing the number of short term rental permits on the Island. This would represent the first step in issuing building permits for large scale homes designed for rental only and would lead to diminishing the residential and family oriented culture on the Island.

Finally, I favor a requirement that, prior to consideration for removal or destruction, non-residential historic structures and landmarks be reviewed as to the costs of preservation and/or repair. Understanding the costs and benefits is key to making decisions, particularly on properties that once gone cannot be retrieved.

It is my view that the legal agreement arrived at pertaining to the Maritime Forrest is one that takes into the account the desires of the few versus the many. In fact, the plan for cutting, if carried out in is current form, decimates what is a natural storm break and increases the threat of erosion, putting many Island residents in peril. It would obviously obliterate the refuge and home the forest provides for many species of wildlife – particularly migrating birds. It is not too late to walk back certain aspects of the plan provided those who oppose it work together with regulatory bodies, the Army Corps of Engineers and conservation groups.

The critical learning lesson from this legal agreement for the residents of Sullivans Island is to ensure the Town Council operates with transparency, openness and honesty. Never again can a decision that negatively impacts the many in favor of the few be allowed to occur. All council members must also be willing to look their constituency in the collective eye and discuss potential conflicts of interest when and if they occur and be willing to recuse themselves from voting if circumstance suggest that is the “right” thing to do.
It is interesting to note the focus of this question pertains to resiliency, storm surge and storm water drainage. One factor certain to compound these issues is decimating the Maritme Forest! A single large tree can absorb as much as 1 gallon of water per hour. Without those trees one can only imagine the level of standing water that could accumulate on the front beach roads and the land between the roads and the beach itself. That said…infrastructure improvements have long been discussed with good progress being made on replacing the 5 waste-water lift stations. A more difficult and costly plan must be must be developed that prioritizes storm water drainage and protects against a rise in sea levels. The areas comprising the Station 18 and 28 water basins should be of particular focus, (but not neglecting other areas of the Island). The existing concrete pipes and open ditches in these drainage basins are no longer sufficient, even when fully cleaned and open. Obviously the town should and will work cooperatively with SCDOT, Charleston County, Federal sources et al for funding, but Sullivans Island should also study and consider self-funding via the use of its valuable AA / Aa2 credit rating. With interest rates at a historic low and inflation beginning to rise, a long-term municipal bond could be repaid over time with “cheaper dollars”. Funding could also be used to bury above ground power lines, helping to preserve service following storms and alleviating the need for massive cutting of trees every 5 years. The same underground conduit could be used for fiber optics and other modernization programs.

Naturally there may be tax implications of this solution – but if resident want to continue to enjoy median home prices that are double those of other nearby islands (including Kiawah), we may need to consider self-funding some of the needed infrastructure projects.
Significantly increased traffic is one of the downsides of tremendous growth in the Charleston metro area. I have no doubt that following a year of lockdowns in many areas of the country, the desire for a day at the beach this summer could see even more visitors than during a typical summer. The opening of the Ben Sawyer Bridge often exacerbates traffic leading onto the island.

Ben Sawyer Blvd. is a state road and any design changes would have to be undertaken by the state. Given the protected marshes on either side, that is not likely. Without absolutely limiting the number of vehicles coming onto the Island – probably not a legal option – the most likely solution lies in a form of mass transit via the existing infrastructure. One consideration for the summer is series of "tourist-type” trolleys running between a spot in Mount Pleasant and a drop off / pick-up point on Sullivans, with costs shared between the two towns. Any long-term solution will require cooperation between our two towns. I am certainly open to other possible solutions to this quandary.
Now is the wrong time to consider paid parking on Sullivans Island. Our commercial district has been severely impacted by the effects and restrictions from CV-19. Paid parking would be, in effect, a tax on those businesses at a time when they can least afford it. Charging for parking island-wide would also be a step towards broad commercialization of the island – not something the residents would or should support. Per the Comprehensive Plan adopted August 2019...”the Community Commercial District is part of the draw that attracts residents and visitors to the Island.... (it) should be cherished and valued extensively”.

Campaign Phone (203) 610-3249
Age 41
Education JD, University of South Carolina School of Law; Graduate Coursework, Educational Administration & Policy, University of Georgia; BAC, Politics & Environmental Studies, Washington & Lee University
Experience Special Counsel, Barnwell Whaley Patterson & Helms, LLC (2017-Present); Adjunct Professor, Charleston School of Law (2017-2019); Non-Equity Partner, Howser Newman & Besley, LLC (2010-2017)
Candidate Email novakforsullivans@gmail.com
My wife and I first came to Sullivan’s Island ten years ago because we were attracted by the wonderous sense of place and community on this uniquely beautiful barrier island. We returned two years ago for the long-term so that our children will grow up in this special place. As a member of Town Council, I want to ensure that we preserve and protect the history, character, and charm of our island for generations to come so it remains an exceptional place to live, raise our families, and welcome friends and neighbors. I also want to make sure that all island residents are part of the conversation.
As a parent of two young children growing up on the island, I want to ensure that Town Council works to preserve the history, character, and charm of our island for future generations. As an attorney in private practice assisting clients to navigate a wide variety of difficult challenges for the last ten years, I have the knowledge and experience to make sure that island residents understand our challenges, have an objective view of our options, and actively participate in developing an effective strategy for addressing those challenges in a way that preserves the special character of the island. As a member of Town Council, I will make sure that residents are informed of the issues facing our community and have a representative who will listen to their concerns and suggestions and strive to preserve and protect what makes our island an exceptional place to call home.
Our most challenging problems arise from the unprecedented growth and development occurring around us, chronic flooding and climate change, and the pervasive feeling that town officials are not including residents in the discussion about how we address these challenges. As a member of Town Council, I will work to ensure that we respect the history and character of the island and the integrity of our historical structures. I will work to preserve our island’s ecological integrity and natural areas, which are an integral part of what draws people to this special place. I will work to preserve our island’s charm and support our local business. I will work to address the chronic flooding that plagues certain areas of our island and to protect against the impacts of storms and storm surge. And I will ensure that Town Council includes all residents in the discussions about how we address these challenges.
Town Council should not have settled this longstanding dispute of great public interest during a special meeting held with little notice where residents had limited ability to meaningfully participate. What’s more, this critical meeting occurred in the midst of a pandemic and state of emergency when residents’ attention was distracted by a threat to the safety of family, friends, and neighbors. This type of decision-making process sets a dangerous precedent and inevitably leads to distrust and division. The maritime forest, like our island’s other natural areas, is an integral part of what draws people to this special place. It is in our long-term interest to preserve and protect what makes our island exceptional. In moving forward, we must ensure that the settlement agreement is implemented in a manner that as much as possible protects the ecological integrity of this incredible natural resource, which provides a place of respite to residents and visitors, a haven to the beautiful birds that populate our island, and much needed protection from flood waters and storm surge. The consideration of any future measure that impacts our natural areas, which are indispensable to our community’s identity, must occur with the utmost open consideration and public deliberation.
The threats to our quality of life presented by climate change, storm surge, and chronic flooding are among our community’s most challenging problems. To address these problems, we must preserve the integrity of our marshes and natural areas, which help absorb and buffer excess water, continue to use our building codes and zoning ordinances to encourage the responsible management of excess water, and work with the Department of Transportation to improve the critical infrastructure that manages our stormwater and the runoff from our roadways and rights of way. We should also explore the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of moving our overhead powerlines underground to further secure our critical infrastructure from storm damage and mitigate against our energy provider’s careless cutting of the trees that line our island’s streets. Although we should aggressively pursue grants and other funding sources for these efforts, we must also be prepared to do as much as possible on our own by taking advantage of low interest rates to fund necessary long-term projects where other funding is unavailable.
One of the costs of living in such a wonderful place is having people want to come visit. So we must work with our neighbors to help manage traffic flow and offset the costs incurred by our community in welcoming those visitors. This should include insisting that Mount Pleasant and Charleston County provide extra resources to coordinate and manage traffic and encourage visitors to use alternative means of transportation when visiting the island. In addition, we must work to address the flow of traffic coming onto the island at the intersections of Station 22 ½ and Jasper Boulevard and Middle Street and ensure that visitors obey our rules and traffic laws while enjoying our hospitality.
Parking on our island’s roadways and rights of way should remain free to residents and visitors. We should not sacrifice our island’s charm by cluttering our island with parking kiosks and enforcement personnel employed by private companies. Island-wide paid parking is also unlikely to generate the revenue promised. Its proponents’ estimates include consistent revenue from spaces too far from the beach or commercial area to be utilized regularly. A more limited, commercial area paid parking program would only harm local businesses in non-peak seasons, jeopardize hospitality tax revenue, and incentivize parking in residential areas. Paid parking is also unlikely to deter visitors during beach season.
Campaign Phone (843) 822-2705
Age 67
Education University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State University
Experience Nine years as member and chair of the Sullivans Island Planning Commission. Was South Carolina state Chair of American Water Works Association (AWWA) and served on the National Board of Directors of AWWA for two years. 44 years representative of Hach Company in Southeast US, products for water quality and water safety.
Candidate Email garyvisser@bellsouth.net
My wife and I have lived over half our lives on Sullivan’s Island and raised both of our children here. I’ve spent the past nine years on our Planning Commission and as Chair of the Commission produced our latest 10 year strategic plan for the Island. That plan includes our first efforts to add resiliency to the town’s objectives. I want to restore a more public process to council decisions that would invite residents opinions, not hiding behind executive sessions and hidden council objectives. I want to preserve and protect the historic homes and fabric of our island, respecting our existing ordinances. I want to follow our strategic planning for parking and not the whims of Council members acting without consulting our community.
My work on the Sullivans Island Planning Commission, our Strategic Plan for the community and 33 years as a resident.
Resiliency. After Hurricane Hugo I learned how important it is to respect the fragile nature of a barrier island. No wall is high enough, no tree strong enough, no home construction secure enough, no water retention can have enough capacity. We need governance that respects our resources and works with our residents to understand how everyone shares in our communities resiliency objectives.

Open public governance, the maritime forest, and parking are all part of resiliency.
At the very time signifiant progress was being made in a negotiated settlement of the maritime forest lawsuit for areas of cutting and the selection of vegetation and trees, our council held a hasty closed executive session. Without allowing consultation and input from island residents they voted 4-3 to remove our communities assets and impair our communities safety.

Regardless if you support that decision or not, we should all be angry at council members who ran for election saying one thing (or trying to say nothing at all) and voting another in a session closed to public scrutiny, and comment.
It’s easy to loose perspective of how far we’ve come so quickly. We’ve invested heavily in upgrades to our wastewater treatment to protect our surrounding marshes and serve homeowners. We’ve replaced aging pipes and infrastructure to insure fire protection and service in emergencies. We’ve added signifiant improvements to building codes and ordinances. None of this has been cheap however all are funded by low-interest bonds and matching grants. The vegetation and trees in the accreted land are valuable and a free resource in mitigating storm surge and rain events. All have enhanced the resiliency and livability of Sullivans Island.

Our island continues to be a place where people want to own property, raise their children and enjoy the quality of life. We can never draw a line and say “we’re done”, we need to continue to show leadership to our other coastal communities with sound planning and decisions. It all contributes to the safety and value of our homes and the opportunity to thrive on a small island by the sea.
As Chair of our Planning Commission we’ve studied our surrounding communities as they wrestle with traffic, parking and playing host to the visitors who come to enjoy our public owned beaches. We’ve carefully watched the changes implemented such as one-side parking to allow emergency vehicle access everywhere in our community.

We have a finite number of roads, access, parking places and some balance seems to have been found. We need to continue to demand that Charleston County support our island safety with officers and resources in every season. If it's "everyone's beach" then safety and sanitation needs to be a shared expense by everyone in Charleston County.
I do not favor paid parking or “free" resident parking passes.

The most recent "not in 2021" paid parking decision is simply an election year reuse to avoid blame for a poor plan made entirely without public input. "Everything's on the table" means metering, additional enforcement costs, court expenses and threats to public land-recreation fields.

In the short few years we’ve examined this on Planning the technology has evolved from simple parking meters to kiosks to cell phone apps. What the public should expect is to be able to “see” when Sullivan’s Island is “full up” and use another beach access or plan better next weekend. We are only big enough to accommodate so many visitors and they understand their own safety as well as convenience are part of our island’s limits.

The beaches belong to everyone in South Carolina and Sullivan’s Island has proven to provide excellent hospitality and access. We are not a private island and we’re respected for our hospitality. Every reasonable person understands that a six lane bridge or 1000 car parking deck will still not accommodate everyone who would come to enjoy the beach in July. Paid parking changes nothing.