By Jennifer Tuohy, Island Eye News Editor
This May the Town of Sullivan’s Island will once again go to the polls to choose the people who will help shape the future of their town. Nine candidates are vying for four open seats, three for the full 4 year term, and one for a 2 year term, the time remaining in councilmember Patrick O’Neil’s unexpired term, after he was elected Mayor earlier this year.
Current councilmembers Jerry Kaynard and Mary Jane Watson are running for re-election, Hartley Cooper will step down at the end of her current term, councilmembers Chauncey Clark and Susan Middaugh’s terms end in 2017.
Below are short biographies and political statements from each candidate. Between now and the election The Island Eye News will run a question and answer series with the candidates to determine their positions on issues of importance to residents of Sullivan’s Island.
CANDIDATES FOR THE FOUR YEAR TERM (3 open seats)
Jennifer was born in Michigan and lived there until going to college at the University of Alabama. There, she received an undergraduate and masters degree, graduating Summa Cum Laude. She then moved to Atlanta, GA, joined Pfizer, Inc. where she was a peak performer.
For 10 years, Jennifer served the Buckhead area with physicians, earning national awards in both sales and leadership. Jennifer is married to Shawn Holland, and they have 2 children, Lillian, age 13, attending Porter Gaud, and Gray, age 9, at SIES.
Upon their move to Sullivan’s Island nearly four years ago, Jennifer became immediately involved with SIES, and has served as President of FRIENDS, the parent foundation, for the past 2 and a half years.
Jennifer’s primary goal as a council member would be to leave a legacy of transparency and reasonable solutions for the people of this treasured island.
I am running for a four-year term to serve on the Sullivan’s Island Town Council. I am running because I believe that honesty, integrity, transparency and reasonable compromise are the cornerstones of building an effective local, state and national government.
Local politics directly affects a community every day, and I know that Sullivan’s Islanders deserve representation that maximizes their freedom while considering the impact of those choices on other residents. I can assure that I will listen to both sides of every issue and come to a reasonable decision when I cast my vote.
As if having been raised and spending my youth on Sullivan’s Island was not unique enough; I have also been lucky enough to spend most of my adult life on the Island as well.
I did leave long enough to obtain a BS in Business Administration at Belmont Abbey College and an AS degree in Horticulture from Trident Technical College.
I have spent a lifetime in one very satisfying career with its many facets within the “green industry,” in landscape and horticulture. I currently own and operate a landscape business called Aqua-Terra Company. It is currently experiencing its 22nd year.
I belong to and have served in various positions in a few of the SC State trade associations. I am the co-founder and past president of the local trade group with ten years of service with them. I am an active member of Stella Maris Church and the Battery Gadsden Cultural Center. Currently I am serving a 4 year term on the Sullivan’s Island Design Review Board. I have followed island politics closely and ran for this council seat 4 years ago. The natural resources of our beautiful barrier island offers many opportunities for my favorite pastime of wildlife and landscape photography.
I am motivated to seek a seat on Council because I have a profound sense of duty to protect and preserve our community. Raised on Sullivan’s Island I experienced an idyllic childhood that fostered a deep love for our unique community. The natural resources the island offers were the delightful assets of my youth, as they should remain for today’s children. The leaders of this community then were the Founding Fathers of this town we so cherish today. It was their service that has sparked my sense of duty to run for this office.
I have attended virtually all Town Council meetings for the past 5 and a half years and have closely followed island politics.
This experience has formed my belief that our community is best served with one critically unshakable, tenet: “We are a single-family residential community.” This axiom will serve as my guidepost for every issue coming before council. My anchoring commitment is that we remain a quiet, family-oriented community. My promised declaration is to serve our Island with this traditional conviction.
Born in Augusta, Georgia, I graduated from the University of Georgia and New York University School of Law, then practiced law for over 30 years. I am married to Cheryl McMurry Kaynard and we have two daughters, Emily and Maggie, a golden doodle, Banjo, and a cat, Hoover. I have lived on Sullivan’s Island for 37 years and loved every day. If given a do-over, I would be playing trombone in a jazz band and writing novels.
First elected to Town Council in 2007, then re-elected in 2011, I am Chairman of the Administration (Personnel) Committee and cochairman of the Finance Committee which has obtained funding for the new Town Hall. I supported a new health plan for town employees, beach access path improvements, and championed the new Sullivan’s Island Elementary School. I support Island Club community center activities and facility improvements and preserving the residential character of our island.
As a Council Member for the past eight years, I have welcomed new ideas and approaches that improve the quality of our lives. I am a candidate for Town Council because I believe all residents should volunteer their services and their intellect. I have 20 years of experience in municipal government finance, regulation and law.
Public service is a responsibility of citizenship. I believe in public participation and governing by consensus. I will listen to every resident’s point of view with respect. I believe that government can be helpful, without being intrusive. Sometimes, less government is the best government.
I have been a resident of Sullivan’s Island since 1991. I moved to the island for the small town community, a great school, and because it is a wonderful place to raise children. My children range in age from 16 to 37—giving me a broad perspective on the Island—how it has changed and stayed the same. My children attended SIES and as a parent and teacher I support SIES as a wonderful asset of our town.
Before retiring, I was a dedicated educator for thirty plus years, the majority of those in Gifted/Talented classrooms in SC public schools.
My husband, Milton and I were fortunate to purchase the Post Quartermaster building, 1618 Middle Street, and make it a home for our four children. Our renovation project has been on-going for twenty plus years. Consequently, I have become knowledgeable in historic preservation efforts, lead paint, load-bearing walls, and beadboard.
Sullivan’s Island is an extraordinary place thanks to fearless efforts of active citizens before us. We must retain the friendly, neighborhood atmosphere that other barrier islands have lost. Most recently, I led the successful campaign opposing condos on Sullivan’s Island and am working with residents of Mt. Pleasant to limit over-development along Ben Sawyer. We must continue to respect the balance between human impact and nature to ensure our unique quality of life. I will be honored to serve as a council member and continue my work preserving what is best for our community and growing in areas where change is needed.
In 2011, my wife, Kathryn, and I purchased the house on Sullivan’s Island in which we live with our three children: daughters Clayson (8) and Celia (7), and weeks old son, Shirer. My daughters attend Sullivan’s Island Elementary. I have the good fortune of having been born in Charleston and raised between Charleston and Sullivan’s where I have lived for much of my life. I am serving on Sullivan’s Board of Zoning Appeals since November 2012. Prior to attending law school I taught American Literature as a high school English teacher for eight years. Now I practice in the area of construction defense litigation at Haynsworth Sinker Boyd, PA, where I am a shareholder. I recently stepped down as Chair of the state chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council and Secretary of the Board of My Sister’s House, Inc., as my tenure had run full course in both non-profits.
I am running for a seat on Sullivan’s Island Town Council as a bridge builder who believes everyone has a voice that deserves to be heard. I often say the island speaks to me. Interestingly, this statement generates knowing nods. This is interesting for the fact I have difficulty expressing exactly what it means. Still, I can’t help but think those knowing nods truly are knowing. I am running because I owe the island some years of service. It is my way of giving back to a place that has given so much to me and now my family.
I have lived on Sullivan’s Island for the past 13 years. An entrepreneur by trade I currently own Sign Source of Charleston. I have spent my career looking at problems and figuring out how to most efficiently solve them while empowering those around me to act in a positive way.
I am passionate about maintaining strong personal relationships with my family and friends; growing up in a large family I learned early on to be self-sufficient and creative if I wanted to improve my position in life. I can frequently be found walking my dog on the beach. I am an avid traveler and have lived across the United States, Europe, and Southwest Asia.
Giving back to my community is always something that I have felt was key to my personal fulfillment. Whether it is something as simple as picking up trash on the beach, mentoring troubled teens, or opening my home to someone in need, giving back is something I strongly believe in.
Sullivan’s Island residents come first! It is clear to me that some members of our current Town Council are more interested in serving their own interests than those of the very people that they have sworn to represent. The things that makes Sullivan’s Island such a wonderful place to live are under siege from the very people who we have elected to protect it.
I will not support expanding our commercial district, multi-family housing, or limiting resident’s ability to have meaningful input on issues that affect their lives. I will not support public policy decisions made behind closed doors nor will I allow any ordinance to be passed in 7 days without full public feedback. I believe in being open, honest, and available to all islanders.
We should all be very concerned that without immediate action the island that we love will become unrecognizable in coming years. I hope to bring total transparency to the process of our local government so ALL residents can have a say in decisions that will impact our lives for years to come. Change to the island is inevitable, but residents should be in charge of the process not the process in charge of the residents.
Mary Jane Watson
We have lived on the Island for 25 years. I have been an elementary school teacher for 27 years and have been at Sullivan’s Island Elementary for 25. I am a National Board Certified teacher and love my job. I have always been very active in the community and have served the last 8 years on Town Council. I have also been an active member of many Island boards. I currently am on the board of the Sullivan’s Island Park Foundation, ex-officio member of Battery Gadsden, and am Secretary of the Friends of Sullivan’s Island School. Along with my commitment to the Town and school, both my husband, Bill, and I are very involved at our church, East Cooper Baptist. We serve as community group leaders and have taught in the Children’s ministry for the last 7 years. I have enjoyed the responsibilities and have learned a great deal by serving others. We have two daughters, Katie, 25 and Samantha, 21.
My husband Bill and I were blessed to have the opportunity to move to Sullivan’s Island in 1990. I cannot think of a better place to have raised our daughters than on the Island. While the Lowcountry of Charleston offers so much for its families, there is just something special about kids that are able to grow up with sand in their shoes!
Of particular interest to me over the past two terms on Council are the Personnel and Recreation committees. While the Island it a great place to live, the Town staff adds so much to that experience for residents. Whether it is the Police Department returning a lost dog to its family, the Fire Department helping an elderly resident up the stairs, the Maintenance Department keeping the playground clean or the Water Department restoring water after a hard freeze, employees make this a special community. The Personnel Committee has worked very hard to retain employees over the long term that understand our sense of place. As a member of the Recreation Committee, I have worked hard to improve the facilities available to residents such as the tennis courts and basketball court. Additionally, the Committee has been able to implement a number of programs for children in conjunction with traditional Island celebrations such as St. Patrick’s Day in the park, the Golf Cart Parade and Fireworks Show on Independence Day and the Station Lighting Ceremony at Christmas.
CANDIDATES FOR TWO YEAR TEARM (One Council Seat)
We are originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee and moved to South Carolina in 1984. We have lived in our home on Sullivan’s Island, at 3209 Middle Street, for almost 27 years. Our two sons, Ashley and Bradley Haynes, grew up here, attended local schools, graduated from USC, married in island churches and now work with me in our family business.
After graduating from the University of Virginia in 1972, I returned to Chattanooga and opened a popular restaurant, The Brass Register, which was open for lunch and dinner, 7 days a week. It was there I learned about hard work and the necessity for a good work ethic. With over 40 employees under my supervision, I also learned about managing people, schedules, budgets and payrolls.
In 1984, I entered the real estate business. We moved to our Sullivan’s Island home in August 1988 and I opened East Islands Real Estate in 1992.
Thanks to our island friends and clients, we have made this our home and our business has thrived. Now, it is time for me to give back to our community.
If elected, my goal is to protect our way of life on the island, as well as our property values. Over the next two years, there will be several important issues confronting the town and I believe I can help in dealing with them. These issues are paid parking, town projects, fiscal responsibility, the commercial district and the protected land. I don’t have any experience with coyotes, but am willing to learn.
I’ve lived on Sullivan’s Island for 16 years: 11 years as a child and 5 years as an adult. As you can imagine, my memories of our closely knit island community drew me back here and now I feel lucky to be raising my own two kids in my hometown. While my education (BA in Photography from Bard College, 1992) and career (15 years as a photographer and film production assistant in NYC, Los Angeles, and downtown Charleston) led me away, I always knew I’d return to raise my family on Sullivan’s Island. Since my return 5 years ago, I’ve been deeply involved in working to preserve and strengthen our community—as a member of the Board of Zoning Appeals for the Town of Sullivan’s Island, 2 years as PTA President for SIES, 3 years as SIES School Improvement Council member, vocal opponent of the Atlantic development in Mount Pleasant and much more.
Our upcoming election signals a new chapter for Sullivan’s Island.
Now is the time for collaboration—for our Town Council to involve residents in complete evaluation of the important issues we face. I’m committed to working toward strategic and thorough solutions, including:
• a responsible management plan for the Accreted Land that protects the integrity of this natural resource, yet is a true compromise with those living adjacent to the land
• a comprehensive parking plan that will not burden our residents and will allow for public input prior to implementation.
• active opposition to both The Atlantic development in Mount Pleasant and the proposed testing for oil off our coast—both would have a negative impact on our waterways and community.
As a councilmember, I’ll put the needs of our residents first, always with honesty, integrity, and a view toward preserving what’s best about our unique island community.
Spurgin is running for both the two year and four year term. His bio and statement can be found on page 6.
The election will be held Tuesday, May 5. The last day to register to vote is April 5, 2015. Applications by mail to the County Board of Voter Registration office must be postmarked no later than April 4, 2015. The last day to register at the County Board of Voter Registration office is Friday, April 3, 2015. Absentee ballots may be requested and mailed from the Board of Elections and Voter Registration Office of Charleston County. In person absentee ballots may be cast at the Board of Elections and Voter Registration Office, 4367 Headquarters Rd., N. Charleston until 5 p.m. on Monday, May 4, 2015.