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Message From The Mayor: August 2020

Pat O’Neil

Dear Island Neighbors,

It’s really hard to type with all my fingers crossed about the impending hurricane season, but here goes. Please see below for several important items.


Through diligent research, I have learned that there is an election on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

I had a few questions about voting, which I took to the person in charge, Joseph Debney, who is executive director of the Charleston County Board of Elections and Registration. His answers are shown below.

For people who previously registered to vote elsewhere in the state or county or who have never registered to vote in South Carolina:

What do they need to do to vote here on SI or IOP and what are the deadlines?

“Voters not registered here locally would need to register here. The deadline to register is 30 days prior to Nov. 3. They can do this by going to That is the easiest way to register. They may also come into our office at 4367 Headquarters Road in North Charleston. We are open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.”

For those folks registered elsewhere who miss the deadline:

Can they still vote at their former South Carolina precinct?

“Yes, if someone misses the deadline to register, and they are registered in another county or precinct, then they should return to that precinct in order to vote.”

 Mr. Debney also provided this about absentee voting:

Voters can request an absentee ballot now in one of the following ways: email:; phone: 843-744-8664; web: (Live chat feature). Ballots will be ready to go out to voters the first week of October.

 Voters have until 7 p.m. on Election Day to return their absentee ballot. They can return it through the mail. (But it must be received by 7 p.m. Election Day.) We have a tracking service that they can sign up for at: They may also drop it off at our office in our ballot drop box, which is open and video-monitored 24/7.

We will also have four off-site absentee voting locations:

• North Charleston – TBA, either Royal Missionary Baptist Church or North Charleston Coliseum, Monday, Oct. 5 through Monday, Nov. 2.

• West Ashley – Seacoast Church on Savannah Highway – Monday, Oct. 19 through Monday, Nov. 2.

 • Mount Pleasant – Seacoast Church, Long Point Road, Monday, Oct. 19 through Monday, Nov. 2.

• Downtown – Charleston County Public Library, Calhoun Street, Monday, Oct. 19 through Monday, Nov. 2.

Thanks very much to Mr. Debney for this very helpful information. Now it’s up to us to do what we have to do to vote.


Perhaps you’re thinking: “Why do I need flood maps? The last  place I want to get to is a flood!”

In this case, we mean the maps produced by a partnership of Charleston County, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

These are the maps that show the relative flood hazards of each area and property of a community. In turn, that risk determines the required type and elevation of new construction, and, importantly, the flood insurance rates for each property, existing and new.

These new flood maps will be effective Jan. 29, 2021, assuming 2020 ever ends.

Randy Robinson, the town’s building official and flood plain manager, has ably managed the town’s participation in the development and approval of the new maps over a long time. Here are Randy’s observations on the new maps:

“We have been working on these maps since 2002. The first maps were designed with old technology, and, while revising the maps new, more accurate technology became available, so the maps were redeveloped using the new technology.

“Many properties are going to see a significant reduction of required elevation. The new flood heights and reduction in zones may translate into a significant reduction in flood insurance rates for many residents. Residents should contact their insurance provider after the map effective date to make sure the underwriter is going to apply the reduction to their policy. It may be required for some residents to hire a surveyor to adjust or create an elevation certificate.”

Stay alert on this issue. Thanks very much to Randy for his expert and persistent efforts in representing the town throughout this long process, which will yield meaningful benefits for property owners on the island every time we write our checks for flood insurance!

To see the old and new flood maps for the island, please go to the town website:


I refer, of course, to our town meetings on Zoom. However, until we can securely conclude that it is safe to return to in-person meetings, Zoom we must.

One of the limitations of having our public meetings online is the reduced opportunity for real-time input from citizens during designated public comments times. Throughout the pandemic, Council and all our boards and commissions have invited email input, which is acknowledged during the meetings. However, we all recognize that it’s not quite the same.

At our last regular meeting of Town Council, we tested a means of allowing real-time input from residents via the Zoom platform, with several requirements to be met in advance of the meeting for folks who wished to comment during the meeting. We discovered a few technical problems, but it’s to be expected that we will have a learning curve to climb in this. I am hopeful that we will continue to expand our ability to hear from citizens during designated town meetings.

Stay tuned, and check out the meeting notices at the town website for more details when available.

See you around the Island!

Pat O’Neil,

Mayor, Sullivan’s Island



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