Meet the Candidates: Mt. Pleasant Mayoral race

MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - In nearly two weeks, Mount Pleasant voters will head to the polls to either re-elect their current mayor or select a new one.

Linda Page is running as the incumbent while Mount Pleasant Town Council member Will Haynie will challenge her for the job. Both have varying interests for the future of the town but agree something needs to be done about the rapid growth in the area.

Page said the town is running out of large spaces for development and now is the time to focus on getting it right.

"[We need to hyper-focus on] doing those quality projects and not worrying about quantity," she said. "Attracting regional offices, places where people can work, that live in the Mt. Pleasant area, to help with the regional traffic issue."

"We for too long have solely relied on real estate development," Haynie said. "I think it's time to diversify our economy."

Haynie would like to see more focus on what he calls the "Beers and Gears" district, otherwise considered the breweries and the Port.

"That's going to be a real growth area for us," he said. "Other towns can't go out and create a Port, we have one right here and it's going to be our economic generator for a long time. That and high-tech jobs where people will come for the quality of life."

"If you consider quality of life including recreation activities, we have plenty of opportunities," Page said. "If quality of life for you is great parks, open space… we've done great with Waterfront Park and Shem Creek Park. If quality of life is great schools, low crime, and high property values… I think our quality of life is great. For me, quality of life is also the beautiful, natural, vista. The oak trees, the marsh views... and that's what we need to continue to protect."

If Page were to be re-elected Nov. 7, she already has a few things she wants to tackle including the form of government.

"We heard very vocally from 8,400 residents that they want to vote on their form of government," Page said. "I think it's time to start an earnest community about our right to vote."

In June, a petition by a Mount Pleasant group to get that question on a referendum failed. It sought to have a person from each distinct area of the town represented on the council.

"It may be big with her and big with the small group that pushed the petition, but when you're out there talking with the voters like I have been for a year, that's not even in their top five right now," Haynie said. "I think taking away seven of eight votes for council is not the way to go."

Meanwhile, both candidates have a huge interest in protecting small businesses.

Page is the owner-operator of Page's Thieves Market, a business she has worked for since she was 21-years-old.

Her other priority, if she's re-elected, is looking at impact fees.

"I have heard more from small businesses about concerns over what our impact fees are going to be, what they're going to accomplish, who they're punishing," Page said. "I think we need to look at how well we think they're going to produce, and how they're going to affect the people who are building single-family residential homes as well as those [local] businesses."

Haynie also thinks small businesses need support.

"In the past, I have not voted for big box stores to come in because we're pushing our local businesses right now."

Page has served the Town of Mount Pleasant for the last eight years, elected to Council in 2009 and as Mayor in 2013.

Haynie was elected to Council in 2015, and if not elected to Mayor, will still serve as a Town Council Member.

On Thursday, the last candidate forum for mayor and town council will be held at Cairo Middle School in Mount Pleasant from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 7.

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