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City Council Election Debates - District 2

Contenders slog it out, well sort of
Warwick Jones, Editor

It was not a lively debate. And similar to the others in this election, it was marked by civility and politeness. There were differences of opinion, thankfully, but a lot of commonality. In terms of personality, the candidates were similar - both were soft spoken, retiring in nature, and not prone to hyperbole. They were also inclined to brevity and sometimes, understatement. We would favor Darrold Heyward soley because he promises to vote independently of the Mayor. The present incumbent, Debbie Morinelli indicated that she forms her opinions independently but her voting history would suggest other wise. In overall performance, there was little to separate the two contenders. But voters preference may differ because of the contenders' views on some issues, notably the completion of I 526.

Last night's debate was the final in a series hosted by the League of Women Voters. As is common, the contenders were asked to make a 90 second opening statement. Council member Morinelli spoke first and for the only occasion in the whole evening, exceeded the time allotted for answers,. She referred to the efforts to improve communication between the Mayor, Council and neighborhood associations, the need to improve safety and security, and to enhance the districts thoroughfares. In regards to the latter, she was specifically referring to "enhancements" such as bus shelters, bus stops, signals etc. Finally she referred to the need for alleviating traffic congestion, possibly by encouraging more CARTA services. Mr. Heyward stated that the next 4 years would be critical for the district. Traffic was out of control following the massive residential development. Property taxes were also out of control and leadership was needed to make progress on these two important issues.

Of the three most important issues facing the district Mr. Heyward named traffic congestion, property taxes and growth. The latter cannot be stopped but it can be controlled. Property tax issues need to be addressed by representation to the State, he said. Council member Morinelli had a largely similar view. We need to manage growth she said, for traffic was becoming a serious issue. But she also added drainage. Problems were not as acute in the district as in some other parts of West Ashley The City needed to work with the County in solving some issues.

Other questions and responses were:

How can you coordinate growth and expansion?
Morinelli: Work with the City's West Ashley growth plan.
Heyward: Need more regional planning and get municipalities to work together over traffic and growth issues

Do you support the need for a living wage?
Morinelli: Need depends on where you live. Impossible to live on low wages on Peninsula, but possible in other areas.
Hayward: Yes. Anybody who works a full time job should earn sufficient to support a family. State Law does not allow "living wage" legislation.

If you were able to make a $1 million grant, what would it be for?
Morinelli: For extra police patrols and drainage,
Heyward: Same. No matter what is said about work done solving drainage problems, the problems persist.

Should the Mark Clark highway be completed?
Morinelli: Yes, we need to extend it. It will alleviate traffic problems. We can't handle growth without it.
Heyward: No. Look what happened in Cainhoy with the road construction. The character changed. The same will happen to Johns Island with the extension of I-526

Should the City send police to Santee?
Morinelli: Yes, It helps intercept drugs before they get to Charleston. The rotation of police means that fresh faces are appearing which are unfamiliar to criminals.
Heyward: No. There are enough crime and drug problems in Charleston, particularly around the College of Charleston that requires their presence.

Do you support the formation of the Town of James Island?
Morinelli: No. There are pros and cons but there will be a lot of duplication of services.
Heyward: Yes, if the residents vote for it, they should have it.

Over last 5 years, what has been you greatest accomplishment?
Morinelli: Have done a lot for the community. Helped form home associations, build sidewalks, bus shelters.
Heyward: Have done much to help community.

In you vision for the future, what do you see for local transportation?
Morinelli: Total support for Park and Ride lots. We need to try and get infrastructure in place at time of developments.
Heyward: Very supportive of Park and Ride lots

If elected, what is the first thing you would do?
Morinelli: Complete Church Creek drainage project
Hayward: Encourage business to set up satellite offices in West Ashley. Also, to take local elections out of the hands of the City and place with the County.

Affordable Housing?
Morinelli: Not really a problem in West Ashley but big problem in Peninsula. The City need to help provide it
Heyward: Agree.

Political role model?
Morinelli: Barret Larrimore (A member of County Council who died last year) Truly amazing person who gave her considerable help in overcoming problems of the district.
Heyward: Dr Martin Luther King Jnr.

2 am closing for bars etc?
Morinelli: Best thing city has done. Smoking ban should be left to discretion of owners of businesses.
Heyward: Local government should not micromanage. Opposed to 2 am closing, it ignores the fact, particularly for visitors, that not everybody want to go to bed at 2 am Smoking ban should be left to owners

Are city workers paid enough?
Morinelli: Don't know. Some are probably not, as some have left to work for the County.
Heyward: Some workers are paid only $7 to $8 an hour. This is not enough to support a family. Some people are working 2 jobs.

Filing fees for persons standing for election?
Morinelli: Everybody should pay a fee, the same across the board.
Heyward: No filing should be payable.

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