By Pete Palmer, City Council candidate
Contested elections are the bedrock of an effective democracy, which is one of the core reasons that I filed to run for Beaufort City Council. There were two incumbents running for two seats. Now there is a third.
Another motivation is that, while the sitting members of council honestly believe that their actions and plans are transparent, those who have tried to follow city plans get lost in a muddle of the consultants (The Lawrence Group), the Office of Civic Investment, and the Redevelopment Commission. (The City’s Planning Office seems to have been left out of planning.) Who is doing what is almost impossible to figure out — at least from the outside.
I believe that:
• The 19 neighborhoods that comprise the City of Beaufort are not being heard — or if heard, are frequently told that it’s too late.
• The city is not small business friendly. Indeed, the city is competing with small business in at least one instance — the purchase ($1.8 million) of a fragmented industrial park. (There already are privately owned industrial parks here in Beaufort.)
• The city website is less than perfect, even for those who actively follow it. The agendas for council and their committees are meaningful only for those already in the know. “Discussion regarding Depot and Hay Street” does not convey much.
• We can do better, but are unlikely to do so without some change in council’s make up.
My wife, Susan, and I moved to Beaufort 13 years ago. I have been active in the YMCA; Historic Beaufort Foundation; Northwest Quadrant Study Group; the Beaufort River Swim, which funds YMCA learn-to-swim programs; and Masters Swimming. After traveling the world over in the C.I.A., we are here to stay and help keep Beaufort special and business friendly. I created and operated two successful businesses after retiring from the C.I.A. I know that small business is the core of success in a small town and economic development starts from within.
Important decisions are being made on transportation issues such as: Boundary Street project and Ribaut Road project; about neighborhood planning; about totally changing the zoning codes; about the purchase of an Industrial Park; about contracting with outside consultants for almost $2 million dollars; about altering the context of our National Historic Landmark District, which is a gem in this nation and the state!
Summing up, I am running for City Council to:
• Be fiscally accountable;
• Protect our neighborhoods;
• Look for ways to support the growth of locally owned businesses;
• Listen to citizens (you) and communicate pertinent issues.