Change Address

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SC Gville City Council Dist. 1

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    John DeWorken

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    Matthew K Johnson

Biographical Information

1. If elected, what will be your top three priorities?

2. What is the biggest threat to Greenville’s quality of life and how would you address it?

3. What is the proper role for public transportation and how should it be funded?

4. What is City Council’s role in forming a housing policy for all constituents?

5. Name three actions you would support to increase economic opportunities for your constituents.

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1. Neighborhoods: As the “Neighborhood Candidate,” I will make sure our neighborhoods have the strongest voice on City Council. And, as the former North Main neighborhood president, I understand that neighborhoods should drive decisions made at City Hall. I will work to make sure our neighborhoods are safe by slowing cars down, creating safe crosswalks for our children, investing in more sidewalks, and supporting law enforcement. I will also work to keep neighborhoods beautiful and clean by supporting our parks, green spaces, trees and community centers, as well as fighting commercial creep and re-instituting a glass recycling program.

2. City Growth: We must make better decisions about issues related to growth. Every decision about growth should strengthen our neighborhoods and our quality of life.

3. Strong Economy: I will support small and locally owned businesses, be a strong voice for entrepreneurship and innovation, and work to recruit professional jobs to Greenville.
Uncontrolled Growth:

We must not let Greenville become Atlanta. We must be vigilant in making better decisions about issues related to growth. And, every decision about growth should strengthen our neighborhoods and our quality of life. As a City Councilman, I know I will be faced with countless decisions about how we best grow our city. Every time a decision needs to be made, I will ask how this decision will impact the great community we call home.
Public transportation’s role in our community is to provide access: access to jobs, access to healthcare, access to education and access to essential needs. Without which, our entire community suffers.

As former vice chairman of the Greenville Transit Authority (Greenlink), I, along with the chairman at the time, led the effort to fire the then existing transit management company (we even called in the FBI to investigate management malfeasance) to move the entire system under the City. Had we not done so, I believe the transit system was headed for insolvency.

Today, more funding is needed. I will again help lead that effort to work with the County and other entities to ensure our transit system meets the needs of the community.
The role of Greenville City Council is that of a strategic partner. City Council must partner with other key stakeholders to create housing policies that will ensure that a diverse cross-section of people can afford to live in the City. It is also important that City Council continues to support the efforts of the Greenville Housing Fund to advocate for and invest in affordable housing, and purchase land for affordable housing development. Finally, the City and stakeholders should continue looking to other policies and benchmarking other communities to determine the best policies to meet housing needs.
In addition to the more specific areas I describe below, and knowing that Greenville has one of the worst upward economic mobility indicators in the nation, I look forward to working with many of our community stakeholders to reverse that trend. With my experience, here are some areas on which I can and will focus.

Greenlink: I will support more funding for transit. (see importance and experience in #3)

Job Creation: I have spent my professional life advocating for good jobs and small businesses. As such, I understand the role local government can play in creating the right environment to promote a strong economy and job creation.

Opportunity Zones: With four tracts in Greenville City that are designated as Opportunity Zones, and intended to encourage private investments in our lower income neighborhoods, I will work with local and state officials and economic developers to push for investments in these areas. These areas make up a population of approx. 10,000 Greenvillians.
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Affordable Housing—Teachers, police officers, and lower wage earners deserve to live in the city. But if current trends continue, diversity will suffer. City leaders must address this issue through support for existing public resources, collaboration with service providers and philanthropies, better use of available public land and buildings, and improved zoning ordinances. Public Transportation—Public transportation must continue to improve given its relationship to housing affordability, traffic congestion, and environmental responsibility. We must do better for our neighbors and ourselves. Community Centers & Parks—Community centers, parks, and the iconic Reedy River are critical. While our parks are being funded and supported, our community centers are not. Specifically, the City’s lack of action for over a year after a tree fell on and damaged the Bobby Pearse Community Center, a memorial to the WWII veteran funded by his family, must become a priority at City Hall.
Lack of affordable housing is our biggest threat. An exodus of residents and declining diversity are unacceptable. The City must support and collaborate with existing resources, such as the Greenville Housing Fund, non-profits like United Housing Connections, and local philanthropic organizations. We also have underutilized land and buildings for affordable housing. With the right incentives in zoning and permitting, the development community can be a part of the solution.

This will require reconsideration of our zoning ordinances. I served on a task force that revised our single-family residential infill standards in 2016. Unfortunately, these revisions did not provide homeowners and neighborhoods enough certainty, and infill has continued to disrupt neighborhoods, intensifying our affordable housing crisis. We can do better. My work on the Planning Commission and as an attorney make me ideally suited to solve this complex and interconnected issue.
The Greenville Transit Authority concluded Greenville is underfunding its transit system compared to other peer cities. Given the impact on traffic congestion, parking, and the environment, more funding is necessary. Greenlink relies more heavily on federal funds than its peers, which generate funding through local sales or property taxes. Although City Council approved a modest increase in Greenlink funding, it was insufficient. We must consider using annual increases in General Funds for capital and operational costs. The benefits can be more than mere ridership, decreased traffic/parking issues, and improved environmental impact. By purchasing electric buses from Proterra, Inc., which manufactures buses and employees citizens in Greenville, we can increase ridership and help more Greenville citizens get to work, school, and medical appointments on time and regularly, offsetting much of the cost.
Increasing housing costs are threatening Greenville’s diversity. I am unwilling to accept a Greenville where basic housing is an impossibility to many working families. Yet we lack thousands of affordable units, even for individuals and families with regular wage earners. Greenville’s funding of affordable housing has been insufficient. This will intensify as Greenville grows. We must lead financially and through incentives for private development, budgeting priorities, zoning ordinances that favor affordability, and streamlined permitting to provide certainty to developers and protection for homeowners.

Greenville is working to combat gentrification near Unity Park through affordable and senior housing on 9 acres. Because current zoning would allow only 180 units, zoning must change to allow for greater density. Through my years of service on the city’s Planning Commission, I am experienced in revising our zoning ordinances and identifying zoning solutions to this problem.
Affordable housing, public transportation, and community centers/parks are fundamental to increased economic opportunities. Without an appropriate response to our affordable housing shortage, new businesses will hesitate to invest. Without public transportation to guarantee access to jobs and to improve quality of life through less traffic congestion and limited parking, the infrastructure for new business will not suffice. Without community centers, parks, and greenspaces, our quality of life will not flourish and attract new business investment. By focusing on these three areas as discussed further above, we will have new business investment and increased economic opportunities for all of Greenville.