1) What do you feel are the best strategies for addressing the homelessness/unsheltered population issue in Charleston?
We must address homelessness at its root causes. Programs like the one being developed at First Presbyterian Church Charleston, of which I am a founding member and President, with a mission to assist youth aging out of foster care is one example of prevention. Former foster youth are twice more likely to suffer from PTSD than combat veterans; one in two will develop substance dependence; seven in ten girls with become pregnant before the age of twenty-four. These statistics place these youth in jeopardy of becoming homeless. Connecting former foster care youth with a network of support and services will give them the opportunity to realize their potential and shape a successful future.
2) What is your position on economic development incentives and how can the City work with economic development partners to incentivize business relocation and expansion?
We need to level the playing field for women/minority entrepreneurs by providing access to capital such as the grant program I helped develop at the Alliance. We need to include entrepreneurial skills in workforce training; make sure our code requirements exempt personal debt; find ways to stimulate light manufacturing; and, make sure our business requirements are not more stringent than those in the region. The City could develop a program to estimate the direct costs to businesses in relation to ordinance and regulation changes.
3) Charleston City Council has 26 council members. Do you believe that this number is too large to be effective or it adequate? Please explain your answer.
We need to look closely at reducing the size of City Council. We have half the population we once did so there are fewer constituents to serve thereby reducing the constituent services that each Council member must provide. Dividing our city into so many small units can create a sense of division, pitting neighborhoods against each other rather than looking at the city’s needs as a whole so all our residents are adequately served.