Learn some of Scott's ideas, resident questions, feedback and answers from his resident meetings, regarding a few of the pressing issues facing Isle of Palms.
Keep the questions and input coming please!
Scott, what is your stance on IOP beach access?
"Beach Access" routinely gets lumped together with traffic congestion, available parking, and unfettered access/traffic in IOP's family residential neighborhoods. They are all very different - the IOP beaches are open and belong to all. We have an opportunity to clarify these differences, address each of them with our visitors & neighboring communities, and communicate more clearly.
Another angle/view of beach access is the Physical Access/ADA - we can invest more in access point infrastructure, services and much more effective public transportation, to ease and increase access for all.
Parking is a major topic of conversation here on the island. What are your thoughts on the matter?
Residents have clearly voiced their desire to protect the IOP 2015 Parking Plan and I will support that position. With over 1,700 offered public beach parking spots, and hundreds more that are not included in that count, IOP provides an abundance and multiples of average public parking by any measure – by mile of beach, access point, proximity to water. Bottom line – IOP provides ample convenient parking. We can collaborate now toward modifications from the County (a solution), as the County lot entry/exit logistics significantly impacts the beach experience and IOP peak traffic congestion backing up to the Connector. It can be positively solved for all - see traffic Q below.
Isle of Palms faces growing tourism and visitation during peak seasons, how do you plan to remedy the traffic congestion?
Let’s get moving! Neighboring communities are exploding toward 1 million population and will accelerate towards 2+ million over the next decade. The IOP Connector and Breach Inlet are approaching nearly 10 million vehicle crossings per year now, with the IOP shoulder season vanishing. It will ultimately become a year round season.
Possible solutions are available NOW, that if willing, we could test/implement in partnership with surrounding communities and state agencies to improve the coming season experience for all. A few to consider: peak traffic light management with Mt. Pleasant, county parking ingress/egress changes, parking app automation/definition to show available spaces, Connector reconfigured lanes during peak, added traffic/BSO personnel to move traffic, effective & more frequent public shuttle transportation with convenient off-island parking, and re-examining enforceable policies.
You mention that you'd do everything possible to focus on protecting the interests of the residents' investments in large projects, ventures, procurement, and compliance. Can you elaborate?
I've been a Fiduciary my entire career, welcome the responsibility, and am bound by what that means in managing O-P-M - Other Peoples' Money. I'm a strategic planner, CPA, CFP®, retired investment advisor and have spent much of my career as a steward of large company (Fortune 20), small company and individual assets. I commit to proactive planning, due diligence, representing residents’ interests and spending taxpayer funds as if they are my own.
What is your stance on representation off the island/Columbia?
I've had the pleasure of meeting and working with several community leaders in the area and Columbia/State legislators. In my experience, they sincerely want to help IOP. We need their support and I believe we'll make better progress and be able to share the responsibility and cost of our services/infrastructure, with a collaborative spirit, instead of being publicly critical and accusatory. That doesn't mean we are not firm with our community voice and defend home rule - it means we work constructively, clearly and proactively on behalf of residents interests to be effectively represented.
With the recent addition of an experienced IOP lobbying team that is already well versed on IOP's challenges, Mayor Pounds, and the Council team, I support collaboration with communities, legislators, agencies, and the Governor’s office on solutions that are best for all. A proactive, cohesive approach, where we clearly define what residents want, can result in obtaining buy-in, sustainable results, and shared solution funding.
As a resident, I want to know what I can expect from you when it comes to what's important - your vote. How can I trust that your vote will reflect consistency?
When decisions are made, I will support majority decisions, row in the same direction as the decision, and support co-Council members and Administration. My vote will be transparent - it should always represent the will of the residents.
I also commit to be prepared for a vote and will show up ready to represent your interests to the best of my ability.
You're one of few candidates who have ever mentioned the desire to enhance the island's technology. Can you elaborate on that?
I’m a huge supporter and experienced in leveraging technology, transparency, data science, and automation. With minimal investment, we have an opportunity on IOP to significantly improve communication to residents, and shortening decision cycles with quicker, shared access to IOP and other public key information, through implementing public information applications and access. Critical decisions and results often rest on the ability to access key information in a timely manner. We can turn months of evaluation into days or weeks with technology.
What do you believe are the Livability impacts of short-term rentals on the island?
Input Welcome! The Planning Commission is evaluating the impacts of short-term rentals (STR) on Residential Livability and preparing recommendations for Council to address the impacts/trends. For example, it's in the early stages, but we now have the ability to use a tool (IOP MAP- Municipal Analytic Platform) to analyze public data to help us with this complicated topic. We will be able to analyze this topic to the neighborhood level. The team is moving ahead with this new information and the IOP MAP tool access can be made public. I encourage residents to get involved to see what is happening in terms of STR units and hospitality rooms in your neighborhood. I'm going to wait to see what the data tells us before formulating an opinion/conclusions and potential options to consider. Please get involved!
How will you aid in the efforts for IOP public safety?
I would continue supporting the Public Safety teams as prior Councils have. Public Safety leadership, teams and investment are a strength of IOP already. Residents and visitors of Isle of Palms are fortunate to have such robust, experienced, staffed, equipped, visible, accessible, and Responsive Public Safety infrastructure/teams. I have spent some very insightful time with the prior and current leadership - Chief Graham, Chief Cornett, and Chief Briscoe - they have built and managed to bring the resources together (here and with surrounding community agreements) to ensure when the call is made, we will be met quickly with the trained resources and expertise to protect life, limb, safety, and property. These professional teams have been trained and equipped to respond as quickly and thoroughly as any other in South Carolina and municipality in the US. All the Chiefs - they are very accessible and I encourage residents to reach out. We only hear about a fraction of what they do, and none of these key leaders or team members are self horn blowers.
How do you plan to increase resident engagement?
IOP is so fortunate to have such a broad, deep, experienced talent pool of residents from all walks of life. My time on the Planning Commission has been a great experience to participate with resident professionals with multiple perspectives. We can do more. Let’s consider engaging more resident participation/expertise in meetings, on committees, and project initiatives.
Based off your history of volunteering and your extensive community involvement, your image has some ties to environmentalism. How do you plan on creating a "cleaner" island?
Pack it In, Pack it Out! Seems like a no brainer. Let’s promote and implement solutions to this ever-growing issue and encourage all to help with ideas and enforceable approaches.
I’ve met with Public Works Director Donnie Pitts and his key staff. He has been tracking statistics and trends for years. The island is not growing, but we are “growing up,” he says. Higher, bigger structures, more cans, and more debris. He shared that we are generating 100 tons more per month than recent years and the trend is expected to continue up. Drivers include higher development, surrounding growth with higher volumes of visitors, and more deliveries.
This is a trend that will not reverse in our lifetime and we will need to plan/invest ahead to help the Public Works department and residents manage island sanitation. We can educate, call it out constructively if possible, provide the debris outlets, ask for surrounding community assistance, and enforce when it doesn't happen.
I also think it's a great move to create the Environmental Committee. With Mary Pringle at the helm of a group of highly qualified individuals, the expectations to help preserve our beaches, wildlife, and community are in good hands.
How do you intend to increase unity and civility on the island?
Let’s work together. Let’s listen to each other, and try not to lecture each other. Let’s be civil and respectful. Let’s talk face to face. We all have different views and can always find common ground if we are willing to try. I am willing to listen to anyone and invite the conversation.
A neighbor recently asked, and it was a topic during the last election - "I want to know whether (the) City is going to assess homeowners for not being connected to sewer. That’s the biggest issue with the folks I know."
No. The residents of IOP do not support that. Neither would I as your representative.
Pierce Weighs In Ahead of Isle of Palms Special Election
The following are question and answer responses from candidate, Scott Pierce, for the Isle of Palms City Council Special Election on Tuesday, April 5. Published in the Island Eye News.
Q: Why are you running for a seat on the Isle of Palms City Council? What attributes do you bring to the table that would make you an effective member of the Council?
A: We have a short window to address the increasing demands on IOP from accelerating growth in the surrounding areas. These demands will impact our island for generations, and if unchecked, IOP risks losing more local control of our community’s direction and family neighborhoods. As your representative, I’ve committed to:
• Protect Our Quality of Life
• Provide Proactive, Respectful, Objective, & Accountable Leadership for Effective Governance
• Be Transparent & Responsive
• Keep Our Community Safe
My wife Jennie and I plan to live the rest of our lives here and have a vested interest in IOP’s future. I am a resident-first candidate, would be honored to serve the residents of IOP and work collaboratively with a team of dedicated Council members and City Administration. My years of involvement in the Planning Commission and other IOP initiatives have provided a solid foundation and experience to represent resident interests. I’ve cultivated positive working relationships with Council members, Administration, State Legislators, and spent time with each of the department leaders to understand their needs to deliver the highest quality of service and safety possible.
I believe my experience and skills from decades in executive leadership for a global Fortune 20 company and as a business owner on the IOP, will contribute to my ability to serve our community effectively. My experience spans both the private and public sectors. Related functional experience includes public safety – working with the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense – human resources, customer service, compensation, procurement, technology, and as a CFO. I am currently a licensed CPA and a CFP. In closing, as a career Fiduciary, I have no conflicts, will always represent residents first, and put your interests ahead of my own.
Q: Should the city of Isle of Palms have more control over the way the state accommodations taxes collected on the island are spent? If the city had more control over this money, how would you change the way it is distributed?
A: IOP already has control over spending State and Local Accommodations Tax (ATAX) revenues. State regulations are clear on a municipality’s rights and ability to spend the ATAX funds we receive. There are very helpful reference materials on IOP’s website explaining ATAX regulations and how funds are used. IOP received about $4.3 million in ATAX revenue last year.
Over 80% of the funds were allocated directly to support the increased demand on IOP services related to Tourism, including public safety staff & equipment, public works, sanitation, front beach facilities, and other capital projects. The remaining ATAX funds – $733,000 and growing – are required to be allocated to promote tourism on IOP. For the past 25 years, these funds have been directed solely to the Charleston Area Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB), which promotes tourism for the entire Lowcountry. The ATAX committee did a great job to bring light to a lack of documentation, contract and specific IOP deliverables with CVB. However, IOP is ultimately responsible for managing service providers. The new Task Force, led by Councilman Streetman and including the ATAX Committee Chair, is tasked to recommend how to manage the funds going forward.
A leading example is Folly Beach, that created their own flexible and focused marketing organization. We can learn from their success. IOP should consider much different, measurable arrangements, along with spreading the spend among competitive providers – vs. sole source – and perhaps create a Folly like entity for IOP. Let’s give the Task Force a chance to come back to the ATAX committee and Council with their recommendations. I would like IOP to consider more ATAX infrastructure spend directed toward improving beach access, bike paths, better crosswalks, flooding, and ADA facilities.
Q: Should the city of Isle of Palms change its election format by declaring candidates with the greatest number of votes to be the winners, rather than requiring a candidate to receive 50% of the vote plus one to win – thus eliminating runoff elections?
A: This is a big change in the way IOP has run elections. Resident input and the pros/cons of a change should be fully considered before a vote. We have nearly two years before it would be applied, so we have time. In Plurality voting the candidate(s) with the most votes wins and is the primary method of elections in South Carolina and across the country. In South Carolina, Plurality voting is utilized in most municipalities, our State Legislature, and for electing our Governor. In the last IOP election requiring a run-off (November, 2017), the General Election had over 1,750 voters participate. The run-off election participation dropped significantly by 45% to 969 voters. The same two candidates that would have won in a Plurality – Moye, Buckhannon – won in the run-off, in the same order. Extra election, a fraction of General Election turnout, no change. The Executive Director at the Board of Elections has asked IOP to consider this change for years. Mt. Pleasant was the most recent nearby municipality changing to Plurality in 2017.
Advantages of the Plurality system are that it is easily understood by voters, represents a much higher voter turnout than run-offs, provides a quick decision, is more convenient than two elections, and is half the cost of IOP’s current method.
Other Plurality Considerations include:
• Run-off Time Is Short, Excludes Voters – In South Carolina, runoffs must take place 2 weeks after the General Election. The short turnaround time between the General and Runoff Election makes it difficult for absentee ballot participation and voters simply lose interest.
• Outcome Rarely Changes – The highest vote recipient(s) typically win in a run-off.
• Runoff Elections Double the Costs & Effort – Runoff elections cost the same in staff and funds as a General Election. For all these reasons, Plurality voting on IOP is worth consideration.
Q: Should the Isle of Palms Council replace the committee system with workshops?
A: I’ve never been much on having a meeting for the sake of having a meeting, and all the IOP personnel I asked about this topic seemed to echo the same sentiment – loudly. Meetings can always be called to address an issue or opportunity and/or meeting intervals could be extended.
Workshop structures are collaborative, efficient, transparent, and productive. A huge benefit is alignment in the message/content. All Council members and department participants are in the same room, at the same time, to hear everything in the same way – no translation or need to get everyone up to speed on an issue again at the Council Meeting.
Also, no votes are taken at the Workshop.
The current structure is worth a look and modifying for several reasons including:
• The number of meetings per year – IOP had over 140 public meetings last year, which is untenable and creates enormous amounts of staff work to prepare for each. Currently, IOP has six Standing Committees, two Advisory Committees, a Commission, a Board, and a new Task Force.
• Creates up to three reviews and three-month cycles for nearly every topic – Most items are required to traverse a Committee, then Ways & Means and then full Council. This “3 touch” approach contributes to a long reactive governance model to reach conclusions and get things done.
• No resident involvement – The makeup of standing committees excludes resident participation. Like the Planning Commission structure, committees could include resident
• Isolation vs. Collaboration – Since there are so many standing committees with three Council members assigned to each Standing Committee, any two Council members getting together on a topic likely creates a Quorum (majority with only two) and may violate public meeting notice rules.
• Discourages qualified candidates to run for office – All the reasons above are deterrents for many qualified candidates considering a run for IOP office.
• The Mayor and City Administrator are looking at options now. Let’s hear what they come back with.
Q: Has the city government done a good job of working with the South Carolina Department of Transportation to solve the city’s parking and traffic problems?
A: Over the past few months, Mayor Pounds, Council and staff have started an outreach effort to Mount Pleasant, SCDOT and Columbia to address traffic and parking. They are building relationships to find sustainable solutions and funding for many of our challenges, not just parking and traffic. IOP experiences about 10 million annual vehicle crossings on the Connector and Breach Inlet – the lowest traffic volume it will ever be.
Peak congestion solutions are available now and a few include:
• IOP Connector – The Connector offers a real opportunity to alleviate traffic congestion, especially exiting IOP during a storm and high demand weekends. Options include two lanes exiting IOP, or a reversible center lane. I do not think we need lengthy studies to test either of these solutions and seems there’s movement on this topic.
• Traffic Light Coordination –Traffic lights at Rifle Range, Hungryneck and 17 can be adjusted during high volume days/times to accommodate more vehicle throughput.
• Parking Solutions – IOP offers over 1,700 public parking spaces close to the beach (2015 Plan), with a couple hundred all over IOP, not in that count. A visitor has no way to locate a vacant spot, so as spots fill, cars race in the neighborhoods in search of the elusive vacant spot, risking neighborhood safety. Over 1,300 of the existing spots are now defined. There are technology/ application solutions available to locate vacant spots and alleviate blind searches.
• County Lot – The County lot can adopt a different way of collecting fees, instead of jamming up downtown every weekend because of paying on the way in. Many solutions exist that can alleviate this avoidable recurring traffic jam.
To read the published article, visit:
Nestler And Pierce Weigh In Ahead Of Isle Of Palms Special Election – The Island Eye News
* SPECIAL ELECTION *
APRIL 5, 2022
TO FILL THE OPEN SEAT ON CITY COUNCIL
THE POLLS WILL BE OPEN FROM 7:00 AM UNTIL 7:00 PM
You can vote in Person at IOP City Hall and/or IOP Recreation Center or by Absentee Application
Precinct: IOP 1A
Polling Location: IOP City Hall
@ 1207 Palm Boulevard
Precinct: IOP 1B/1C
Polling Location: IOP Recreation
@ 24 28th Ave
There will be a mobile voting unit available at City Hall on March 23rd and at The Citadel Beach House on April 1st.
By email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Online at https://vote.charlestoncounty.org
Contacting Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration at 843-744-8683