SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - It’s a small island with big issues driving a local election this week. Sullivan’s Island is one day away from its municipal election and this year, long-debated key issues are still center stage on the island.
Incumbent Patrick O’Neil is going up against councilmember Chauncey Clark for the mayor’s spot.
“This is a very contentious, hotly contested election,” O’Neil said. “I’ve been on council for 20 years and this is my seventh election that I’ve been in, and this is the hottest one I’ve been in.”
“I think we’re out for a record number of voters, and I hope that’s the case,” Clark said.
This year, two hot-button issues are on the front of mind for many on the island.
The first is the maritime forest settlement agreement that passed town council last year. It allows the cutting of a thick woods along the beach.
“A lot of people were very unhappy with that decision and even more people were unhappy with the way it was made and the way it unfolded,” O’Neil said.
However, with the settlement agreed upon, it’s now in the hands of state agencies like DHEC and the Corps of Engineers to determine the future plans for the forest.
“The overarching issue is a need to return to a transparent, open and participative government,” O’Neil said.
Another top issue is parking. The town was considering implementing paid parking last year but tabled it after dozens of business owners and residents pushed back against the idea.
“The tenor of the island is not to have paid parking and I’m not necessarily for paid parking,” Clark said. “It’s about revenue. If I’m elected mayor it’s my job to go to the state and say we have a state beach and need funding from the state to help us.”
Beyond the mayor’s race, five candidates are also vying for three council seats. They are:
- Scott A. Millimet
- Justin P. Novak
- Kevin Pennington
- Incumbent Tim Reese
- Gary Visser
Absentee ballots are due Monday at the Charleston County election headquarters in North Charleston by 5 p.m.
Voting on the island starts Tuesday at 7 a.m. at Sunrise Presbyterian Church.