Two years ago I threw my hat into the ring and became a candidate for a position on the City of Myrtle Beach council. There were nine of us running, including three incumbents.
I knocked on more than 1,000 doors and talked to hundreds of Myrtle Beach citizens. I finished a distant fourth, losing to the three incumbents. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
A huge thank you is in order for family and friends that helped in my 2011 campaign and the countless residents that shared what they believed important to their community. Regrettably, previous travel commitments and a lack of campaign financing have kept me from another run in 2013.
I am a citizen who votes and am excited about this year’s election. Here’s what influences me as I review the candidates for City of Myrtle Beach mayor and council.
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• I’ll vote for the candidate(s) who get past the sales tax issue. It’s here to stay and a done deal. Resident homeowners are getting their share. The hospitality industry is benefitting. If this is all you have on your platform, you’re a weak candidate.
• I’ll vote for the candidate(s) who are willing to explore approaches where resident annual renters can also enjoy some of the fruits of the sales tax. Much of the burden of the hospitality industry falls on their shoulders. They need a break, too.
• I’ll vote for the candidate(s) who monitor the sales tax expenditures. Ask for a plan on how our money is being spent and then compare the results to the objectives. Where is the point of diminishing returns on the advertising investment? Is another $2 million needed, or will $2 million less yield the same benefits?
• I’ll vote for the candidate(s) that will call on Myrtle Beach residents to become a partner in the fight against crime. The Neighborhood Watch program is our first line of defense, but it’s only as strong as resident participation.
• I’ll vote for the candidate(s) that will stand-up for term limits. Career politicians are useless and the cause of many problems in government at every tier. It brings entirely too much money into elections and leads to cronyism at every level.
• I’ll vote for the candidate(s) willing to explore matching funds in our local elections. It’s leveling the playing field in other communities and needs to be looked at here.
• I’ll vote for the candidate(s) who will publicly and honestly ask PAC money be spent on issues only. Seeing PAC money being spent on candidates implies a “puppet on a string” relationship. Media dollars may certainly control an election, but that’s no promise of good government.
• I’ll vote for the candidate(s) who are willing to support single member districts. It’s a better way to encourage turnout and ensure every vote matters. It’s a better way to hear and understand the many voices within our community. A councilman driving through a section of Myrtle Beach on their way to work doesn’t really get an insight into that neighborhood.
• I’ll vote for the candidate(s) who will stop City of Myrtle Beach participation in the TERI Program. Although the state is ending the program in 2018, individual entities can bow out at any time. That program is keeping well-qualified younger people from advancing in our public service sector.
• I’ll vote for the candidate(s) who will chair a diverse group of Myrtle Beach businessmen to hear their issues and bring them before the city. Are we regulating beyond necessity? Let’s hear from businessmen.
• And finally, I’ll vote for the candidate(s) that I see knocking on the doors of my neighbors, asking, “What’s important to them?” As political yard signs clutter vacant lots throughout the city and the wave of paid advertising has begun, I wonder, “Which candidates are above special interests and listening to all the people?”
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.