I received my bachelor of science degree from Benedict College, Masters of Arts degree from Howard University, post graduate work Catholic University, and a Certificate in Community Economic Development from John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
Currently I serve as Charleston city councilman for District 6.
Prior to serving on City Council, I served 32 years with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). I achieved Senior Executive Service (SES) as Director of the Office Program Standards and Evaluation responsible for writing Civil Rights policies in over $32 billion of housing and community development programs which included protections for women.
My career culminated with 8 years as CEO of the HUD Columbia Field Office for South Carolina. As CEO of the HUD Columbia Field Office for South Carolina, I directed billions of dollars of critical resources to communities across the State. During my tenure, HUD’s funding for the State grew from $660 million annually to over $1.4 billion, with assets in access of $2 billion. During this time, the City of Charleston received $12 million in tax credits, MUSC received a FHA mortgage for $400 million to construct the Ashley River Tower (The ART Building) and state and local governments received millions of dollars for housing and community.
I want to continue as Council Member for District 6 because I have the leadership experience needed to continue the fight to protect our livability and quality of life. (See Experience Section for details.)
I have represented the citizens of District 6 since 2009. The district lines changed in 2011 making James Island part of District 6. James Islanders first voted for the District 6 Representative in 2013 after the redistricting of all city districts in accordance with the Voting Rights Act. I am thankful to the constituents on the island and downtown for granting me this opportunity to serve. In a five person race, 62% of the district’s voters elected me as their City Council Member.
That same year, I was nominated by former Mayor Joseph P. Riley and unanimously elected by City Council as Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Charleston, and Acting Mayor during the mayor’s convalescence, conducting city council meetings and all other duties assigned.
I feel privileged to serve a district made up of many diverse neighborhoods with unique needs.
While we have accomplished much in our neighborhoods, there is still more work to do. We must:
1. Identify additional revenue for drainage relief for our neighborhoods;
2. Improve police & fire departments to the highest levels of operation;
3. Create public transportation that reduces the cost of commuting and congestion;
4. Create good jobs;
5. Champion for affordable housing;
6. Support the extension of the James Island moratorium for an Intergovernmental Comprehensive Plan where transportation, drainage, and zoning work in harmony;
7. Protect public access to the peninsula part of the Longborough community;
8. Customize our zoning Laws to preserve the character of neighborhoods; and
9. Create more green space and cultural enrichment for our neighborhoods.
Currently, I serve as Chairman of the Licensing, Recreation/Parks, and Accommodation Committees; and formerly served as Chairman of the Sustainability, Public Works, and Small Claims Committees; and Vice Chair Community Development Committee.
I was born and reared downtown and attended the public schools of the city. I graduated from Burke High School. I am a member of the Trustee Board of Mother Emanuel AME Church and currently reside in Wagener Terrace.
City council voted to establish a Short Term Rental Task Force representing a broad spectrum of community residents to collaboratively develop city-wide short term rental policy recommendations. The task force recommendations are currently being reviewed by the Planning Commission. Once the commission completes its review, the proposed Ordinance will be sent to City Council for our consideration for codification.
I’ve appointed Dr. Elena Tuerk to represent District 6 on the task force. Prior to living on James Island, Dr. Tuerk lived downtown in the district. She continues to represent the district well during the final deliberations with the Planning Commission.
The Short-Term Rental Task Force was not established to review the city’s affordable housing ordinances. I agree that these are separate issues, but their correlation lies with the affordability variable. One provided lower cost short term housing for visitors and the other provides affordable housing opportunities for residents.
The face of affordability has changed. That face is now you and our children. That face is now police officers, fire fighters, teachers, and the elderly.
Housing is the economic engine of our economy. It creates jobs, a tax base, and wealth for residents through homeownership opportunities, and shelter. It affects every facet of our lives.
However, it is important that we plan growth smartly to accommodate the 53 people moving to the area daily. We must protect the brand called Charleston and avoid the consequences of unbridled growth which if not controlled will devastate a vital part of our local economy and create another every other city USA.
We must improve our aging infrastructure to accommodate future housing demands, and catch up with existing conditions. Unfortunately, this approach has not always been the practice; resulting in many of our older neighborhoods suffering from the consequences of traffic congestion and flooding from the proliferation of new developments.
The City attempts to address these issues through its statutory required Century V Master Plan. The Century V Plan is updated periodically. It addresses growth and housing demands based on an expected to reside approach. Regionalization through the Council of Governments (COG) process assures collaboration and coordination between local and state governments.
The adoption of legislation is almost always required to keep things on track. City Council is due to update the plan shortly, and will consider any nuance which may require change.
To address the affordability gap, council has amended the MU2 Work Force housing Ordinance to increase from 15% to 20% for workforce housing projects and extended the affordability period to 20 years.
Another key feature of the Ordinance is the fee in lieu of provision. Developers also have the option to pay a fee instead of construction of the 20% units of the project designated as affordable. This option is most preferable because it provides the City with an option to leverage these fees into permanent affordable units.
In addition, City Council has a $20,000,000 Affordable Housing Bond Referendum. If passed by voters, it will give the City the opportunity in public/private partnerships to produce over 800 affordable units throughout the City. It is very important for city residents to go to the polls on November 7th, to support the Referendum to provide more permanent affordable housing opportunities for citizens.
Council Members Moody, Wilson and I listened to the Islanders’ pleas to place a pause on development of properties zoned General and/or Limited Business. These zoning designations give developers the ability to produce hundreds of apartment units. These type projects often have a negative effect on the established neighborhoods on the Island. As a result, we recommended and City Council voted unanimously to adopt the Moratorium for James Island to address these issues which continue to affect livability and quality of life.
The moratorium ordinance was recently amended to strike the restrictions on new residential units where the property is currently zoned exclusively for that purpose. It was never the intent of City Council place such restrictions.
In some cases, a moratorium can be a good mechanism for controlling growth, and in the case of James Island, it is warranted. The Town of James Island also adopted the moratorium. This inter-jurisdictional approach is necessary to control growth in a consistent and cohesive manner.
An Intergovernmental Council established about 4 years ago continues to strengthen inter-jurisdictional coordination to address the many challenges that Islanders face. This council is made up of the Mayors and Council Representatives from the Town of James Island, Cities of Charleston and Folly Beach, Charleston County and the PSD.
The moratorium has brought us together to adopt and implement the Folly Road Overlay, and to also look at drainage as ‘One Island’ and not as individual silos. My quest is for an Intergovernmental Comprehensive Plan where transportation, drainage and zoning work in harmony.
I hope the James Island Moratorium will be the catalyst to address many of the growth challenges on the Island. However, I am generally not an advocate for moratoriums in all cases where there may be growth issues. I don't think a hotel moratorium will yield the same results as the James Island Moratorium because in many cases, the issues are different. For instance, I think market forces will dictate hotel development. Demand will dictate supply. Such a moratorium can have drastic economic affect and send the wrong message that we are not open for business.
My #1 priority is to make our city safe for everyone. I want to continue fighting to make sea level rise/drainage the #1 public safety priority of our time. If not attended to immediately, our children will be left with an inferior infrastructure as the ocean and rivers reclaim its territory. With bold leadership, our 2018 budget should chart the course to Save Our City. City Council must make drainage our highest budgetary priority. Increasing revenue will speed up implementation of the essential aspects of resilience – Reinvest, Respond and Ready in accordance with the city’s Sea Level Rise Strategy. Our livability and quality of life are at stake. We must act now!
The City currently has a number of drainage projects in various phases of development. District 6 has the $142,000,000 Septima Clark Parkway Drainage Project underway that will provide relief to thousands of residents in areas that have been experiencing severe flooding for over 100 years. I am thankful that in my lifetime we will experience relief.
The City’s 2018 budget will include funding for a drainage study for the Central Park Rd, Fleming Rd, Maybank and Folly Rd.; an area experiencing a significant amount of development. My approach, if reelected, is to focus on the cleaning and maintenance of the ditches on James Island. There is no excuse for any home to be flooded because of a ditch problem.
We are now updating our Storm Water Management Manual and Storm Water Management Plan which continue to prioritize specific projects. The 1984 Drainage Study did a prioritization and was updated in the 1990s. However, cost is a major factor in where and when we move forward.
I support most things that will reduce traffic congestion including carpooling, flexible work schedule, carpool lanes, express lanes for bus and/or transit, cycling lanes etc.
I remain an advocate for the relocation of the cruise ship terminal for environmental reasons. If relocated, it will provide the City with additional revenue, and opportunities to create green space and provide the public the enjoyment of the water’s edge.
We should provide as many bicycle lanes as possible to reduce the use of cars. As City Council members we recently approved two giant measures which would be great for cyclers. The Low Line which will be 1.6 mile linear park through the center of downtown will provide green space, bike lanes and walkable trails.
Council also approved the application for a Federal Grant to build a standalone bridge across the Ashley River with bicycle lanes and pedestrian walkways. This effort will provide a non-motorized connection between West of the Ashley and downtown, and reduce the need for cars.
The aforementioned are recent steps. As a councilman, I have been a consistent advocate in my support for more bicycle lanes in Charleston.
Unfortunately, I have not studied the Heritage Act sufficiently to provide a position regarding repeal.