February 2014

February 2014: Mayors

Author: Drew Laughlin, Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Observations of a Mayor
The greatest professional honor of my life was being elected as your mayor. Being mayor means you enjoy a unique seat at the table. You see and hear most of the table conversation. Though I came to the office with considerable community and town involvement, I have learned a great deal as mayor the last three years. A mayor is seemingly pulled in many directions by many people, but I have come to realize that so long as a mayor has a constitution, doctrine, or vision, he will never be pulled apart from his beliefs. This has stood me well these last three years. Here are some of my observations:

1.Listen to people, whether you agree with them or not; they deserve a chance to weigh in on island issues.
2.Educate islanders on not only our accomplishments, but on emerging issues as well.
3.Let council members have their say and seek their advice.
4.Think and act regionally; we depend on others as they depend on us.
5.Focus the town’s energy on things that matter and things we can get done.
6.Trust, but verify, when well-meaning organizations propose an idea/project and promise the moon but come up short, with the town on the hook
7. Celebrate successes and acknowledge council, staff, and our public and private partners.
8.Lead man, lead! Avoid the temptation to vote or take action just because someone was the last to whisper in your ear or was the most vocal; rather, always ask: what is the best for the island?
9. Be willing to be unpopular at times, recognizing that not everyone gets their way, and that there are consequences to almost everything we do at town hall and not all those consequences can be satisfactorily resolved.
10. Be a cheerleader, be optimistic, look beyond the criticism and take time to look around and see what a beautiful island we have.

2013 was an extraordinary year, and 2014 will be no different. We are creating a positive climate for business investment with a quarter billion private sector dollars to be spent in 2013 and 2014. We have enriched the lives of residents and guests by park development, more community events and festivals like the 350/30 Celebration. We’re upgrading public infrastructure and facilities, including new pathways, land purchases, and road improvements. We’re supporting dredging and beach renourishment efforts to make our island an enviable destination. Council continues to keep taxes low and services high. We’ve streamlined our permitting process, and through Land Management Ordinance (LMO) and policy changes, have migrated from the “land of can’t” to the “land of can.” Our tourism, real estate, and building permit revenues are all increasing, so we are on the move. Looking ahead, we need to finish the job of redeveloping the Coligny area with a USCB campus not far away. We need get on with Chaplin Linear Park and the LMO re-write.

Bluffton: mobile and online
The Town of Bluffton uses many tools to keep residents, visitors, and future residents up-to-date, informed, and sometimes entertained. First we have our websites: townofbluffton.sc.gov and blufftonpolice.sc.gov. The Town and Police websites have a combined average of over 11,000 visits per month and numerous more page views. The website homepages are always popular, but we also receive many visits to our employment, community events, town council, and news/media pages. Our Christmas parade page received over 3,000 views in the month of December.

With the continued growth of mobile device use, we have implemented a responsive design to the Town of Bluffton website. (Mobile device viewing of our websites has grown from less than 100 views per month to over 5,000.) Responsive design automatically resizes the website for optimal viewing, dependent on the device in use. This will provide a better experience for users viewing our site on a mobile device. The Bluffton Police Department website with the responsive design feature is in production now and will be implemented in the next few weeks.

Along with the Don Ryan Center for Innovation, the Town of Bluffton and Bluffton Police Department are now social! All have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. Facebook and Twitter are updated frequently with information, pictures and community interest stories. This is the wave of the future and a must to keep up with all generations. Links to these sites are available on our websites. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Help us get a record number of likes and followers on both.
We want to hear from you! Please use the Contact Us pages on the Town and Police websites to request information, report a problem, or even tell us what a great job we are doing. We respond to all contacts and look forward to hearing from you.

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