Vote for Tom O’Rourke for Mount Pleasant Town Council

The Mount Pleasant of 2030 will be vastly different than the Mount Pleasant of 2017. The difference between creating the most desirable place to live, work, and raise a family will depend on your vote on Nov. 7.

Explore this site and learn more about me, my vision for Mount Pleasant’s future, and why you should vote for me for Town Council.

Panel 1

Final Message to the Voters of Mount Pleasant

Today, the voters in Mount Pleasant will go to the polls to elect a Mayor and four new Town Council members. Honestly, I am glad that the campaigning is over. I am very comfortable with how I have handled myself during these past 60 days. Before this started, I promised myself to meet with any person or group that asked me to meet. I did that. I promised myself that I would refrain from any negative comments about anyone in this race. I did that. In fact, one thing I did not see coming is that I really like the other people who are running for a Town Council seat. In many ways, I have made eight new friends that I hope I can stay in contact with, however this ends up. Everyone running has positive traits.

To sum this all up, I want your vote. I want your trust. I have said from the very beginning that we will not agree on everything. But that causes great discussion, and great discussion, done professionally, can result in great things.

I wanted to give a summary of what I would like to accomplish in my four years on Council:

  • I would like to address the over half-a-million dollars of deferred capital needs with a multi-year plan.
  • I would like to be part of a Mayor and Town Council that enthusiastically agree upon the Comprehensive Master Plan, and work together professionally.
  • I would like to lead the charge to create pricing structures and enterprise ventures that will enable the revenue side of our budget to increase by $2 to 5 million. $2 to 5 million, bonded over multiple years, would allow the Town to pay for about $30 to 50 million of new capital projects.
  • I would like to create a fund to provide additional park land and greenspace.
  • I would like to create opportunities to give citizens around age 30-45 opportunities to get involved in their government. We all know that not many people vote in Mount Pleasant. We need to give them a reason to vote by involving them.
  • I want, after four years, for any citizen that lives in the northern part of town to feel as if they have as much representation by their government as anyone who lives in the southern part of town.
  • I would like to discuss ordinances that would require any newly paved road to be lined with bicycle and pedestrian striping to proving a safe transportation option for people who do not want to drive in their car.
  • I would like to lead a charge that trusts our exceptional Town staff. The Mayor and Council should set direction and find the funding; the staff should carry things out.
  • I want Mount Pleasant to continue to be a safe place to live, play and work. Although I do not put these in order, this may be my highest priority.

Vote Tom O’Rourke TODAY, Nov. 7

Panel 2

Top Five Issues

These are what I see as the five most important issues facing Mount Pleasant over the next eight years.


Financial Sustainability

I wrestled as to whether I should put financial sustainability over growth. I put it above growth because with enough money, we can solve some of the growth issues. I believe in property rights. I also believe that the over growth of our community has hurt us. We will need to have serious discussions about buying property that we do not want to be developed. There are countless tools in the toolbox to accomplish this, and with the proper amount of funding and a keen understanding of government bonding, I believe that we can solve many of our over-development issues.


Growth

Some people think that increased traffic is the issue; others think that permitting too many multi-family projects is the issue; others think that the Town does not have enough athletic fields. While all of those issues may be true, the real issue is growth. Growth that simply must be managed. The Town Council and Mayor will need to lead the citizens of the Town of Mount Pleasant through a process to create a shared vision relating to determining our rate of growth, by segments (single family, multi-family, and area-wide business). The plan should be developed, and every decision that is made should take into consideration the goals of the “Town of Mount Pleasant Growth Plan” (…or anti-growth plan).


Quality of Life Issues

How could this not be on my list? I have spent my entire professional career providing quality of life though parks, programs and recreation services to people of Mount Pleasant and Charleston County. Mount Pleasant has every resource needed to become a world-class town. We enjoy a favorable climate, water access, employment opportunities, exceptional public safety, and many other resources. I feel strongly that we need to do a better job in the area of bicycle and pedestrian connectivity to our parks, schools, natural areas and attractions. I also believe that parks and open spaces are the foundation to great communities.


Vision

We have been quick to articulate what we do not want in Mount Pleasant. But what is it that we want? We should create a collective vision, by ALL of the residents of Mount Pleasant, to determine what it is that we want. Once that is determined though a collective Comprehensive Plan, we should make all decisions to support the plan. The Town currently has plans in place, but in my opinion they need to be revisited more frequently. More frequent visitation of current plans, WITH PUBLIC INPUT, assists the elected people with policy making. We also need to insure that our plans involve regional planning. Our region will never solve growth issues by having individual communities address them on their own.


Town Morale and Community Pride

I want there to be ONE Mount Pleasant, governed by a group of professionals, that gets along with each other and respect each other. There will be disagreement within the community and with our elected officials. That is not only okay, it is a good thing. I’ve seen disagreement bring about great discussion and usually a better outcome. Even with the issues we have today, Mount Pleasant is a GREAT community.

Panel 3

Why Tom?

Why would I be good for Mount Pleasant Town Council?

I understand Government Finance. I teach government finance at the National Recreation and Park Association’s Directors School and also at Clemson University. Not only do I understand it, but I have also developed, balanced and executed an over 30-million-dollar operating budget at the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC). I also left my position as executive director with a Capital Plan that will allocate 50 million dollars of capital improvements every five years. Today, CCPRC’s general fund balance is over 15 million dollars. When I took the job at CCPRC, our fund balance was a little under 3 million. This lets us borrow at a much lower interest rate. Responsible financial execution and oversight of the public’s money may be our most important responsibility.

I have experience working with the government. While the executive director of CCPRC, I had the pleasure of working with all of the government agencies within Charleston County. There are 11 mayors in Charleston County and about 100 council members. I think I knew them all. Through my relationships with these other government officials I had the opportunity to lean from all of them. Populations of these communities may vary, but at the end of the day, elected people serve those within their jurisdiction. I have learned from many of the best.

I understand Mount Pleasant from a staff perspective. I was the Town recreation director for almost eight years. In those eight years, with the help of Council and our administrator, we accomplished tremendous growth with recreation facilities. For those who don’t know this, our Town staff is as good as they come. When I was a department director, our relationship with the Council members and Mayor was exceptional. We worked together, we respected each other, and we had fun. I would like to feed that type of culture.

I listen. When you are a senior manager of a public agency you understand that we work for the citizens we serve. Without the citizens, we have no jobs. I fostered an environment of open communication. I believe that we get a deeper understanding in matters when we listen to all sides of an issue. Town Council members cannot know it all. They will need to have the personality of a listener.

I know Mount Pleasant. Although I was not born here, I have been in Mount Pleasant since 1978 – almost 40 years. This is my Town. I remember the past. I knew Red Simmons and Junior Magwood. I ate lunch with Mayor Grogy Darby when his son, Gordy, was on my Recreation Committee. I went to church with Chuck Dawley. Dick Jones hired me as recreation director and I will never forget how great of a man he was. Mugsy Kerr was my recreation chair, and Cheryl Woods-Flowers was one of the most supportive people I ever worked for. History is important to me. Remembering our past is essential. It is easier to remember the past if you were there.

Panel 4

About the Artist

My site features incredible photography by artist Valerie Fitts that showcases all of the natural beauty that makes Mount Pleasant such a special place. Please take a moment to learn more about her and her work.


Valerie Fitts is a Tennessee-born Southern girl with more than just charm. She has vision and a true calling to inspire others to enjoy and protect the natural beauty that surrounds the residents of Mount Pleasant.

Valerie’s feet first touched Mount Pleasant’s soil in 1996, when her husband’s job was transferred to the Lowcountry. She stepped out of the car, took her first breath, and instantly her nostrils were full of the pungent salty-sweet smell of pluff mud. She exclaimed, “this smells like home!”

From that day forward, she rose before the dawn, running with camera in hand, along the golden-green marshes and sparkling waterways of Mount Pleasant…capturing breathtaking sunrises, lush landscapes, and ending most days capturing stunning sunsets from the Old Pitt Street Bridge.

Valerie and her husband raised both of their sons in Mount Pleasant. Being a running family, they spent many hours enjoying the many parks and recreational areas that Mount Pleasant offers. That is where her family first met Tom O’Rourke, and witnessed his exceptional leadership skills, and love for the town of Mount Pleasant. She feels it a true honor that her photos were selected to support Tom O’Rourke and his campaign for Mount Pleasant Town Council.

Please check out more of Valerie’s work at www.valeriefittsphotography.com.