By Meghan Daniel for Island Eye News
The Municipal Association of South Carolina (MASC) recently announced that three Isle of Palms council members were awarded with certificates of graduation from the Municipal Elected Officials Institute of Government program.
Council members Ryan Buckhannon, Phillip Pounds and Rusty Streetman participated in more than 25 hours of classroom work, including two day-long sessions and two morning sessions, prior to receiving their respective graduation certificates during the association’s Hometown Legislative Action Week, which was held virtually this year throughout the first week of February. Learning sessions about “the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, ethics and accountability, budgeting, planning and zoning, human resources and economic development” constitute the bulk of the program’s instruction, according to a news release published by the association.
Streetman said of his experience: “The program that MASC offers is excellent and very comprehensive. The training sessions are designed to give elected municipal officials a very sound knowledge base to help establish good public policy. I thoroughly enjoyed taking the courses and I feel that [the program] prepares an elected official to better serve their municipality and constituents.”
Streetman, Pounds and Buckhannon are now part of a cohort of more than 30 years worth of municipal officials that have graduated from this program, which was designed to give “municipal officials a strong foundation in the operation of local government,” as well as to teach about the role of elected officials and administrative staff as well as “about the relationships between local, state and federal levels of government.” Buckhannon praised the program and called for widespread participation in it among municipal officials: “All elected officials should take it for the fact that it gives insight on how municipal government works, from government to personnel, [as well as] what you can and cannot do as an elected official.” He added that “There are some municipalities of the state [in which] every one of their elected officials are graduates of the program.”
The association reports that the institute pools its faculty resources from “recognized local government leaders in South Carolina and other states, state officials, faculty and staff of the state’s colleges and universities, as well as other guest lecturers.”
Completion of the program requires participation in both in-person and online courses, although COVID-19 considerations resulted in a transition to more virtual training than usual this year, Streetman explained.
Pounds lauded the program as “A great resource for newly elected officials with training programs, articles of interest,” and opportunity for greater insight on “what other municipalities are doing and the latest happenings in Columbia.”