The soul of Sullivan’s Island is alive and well. There is an amazing amount of energy and community spirit that is good and giving here. Grassroots groups pick up beach trash, adopt walkways and collect for the underserved. Parks filled with children, a thriving “downtown” and an elementary school idyllically situated by the sea are just a few of the perks of living in this extraordinary place.
But even in extraordinary places, challenges arise. Democracy is defined by collaboration. It is what moves us forward. Division is a political tool that uses fear to maintain the status quo. I believe that it is time for us to come together for the good of our families, our children and the future of our island.
We cannot continue to kick the can down the road another inch, neglecting other issues, while debating yet again the settled accreted-land lawsuit. While Mayor Pat O'Neil would like to keep relitigating the decade-old lawsuit, the simple truth is that the matter was mediated and settled. Six of seven council members, including the mayor, voted to do so. An inability to compromise has no place in governance. Government is about the common good, and finding a way that accommodates many varied interests.
We need to return to being a civil society. It is time to move on — resilient, diligent and united. I have a vision that includes maintaining a healthy and livable environment for our island. One that includes an efficient stormwater management plan to handle the water that inundates our streets, tidal surge flood relief planning, and a plan to address traffic flow and infrastructure on the island in concert with a push to garner funding from the state and other sources.
Our infrastructure is crumbling, and global warming is at our doorstep. We need leadership to chart a new path that moves us forward together. We can no longer ignore these challenges and just wish them away.
Sullivan’s Island remains a place of exquisite beauty inhabited by a wonderful community of deeply engaged citizens. People from all over the world come to our pristine beaches. None of that has changed, but the world around us has. The Charleston area is growing by leaps and bounds. It is unrealistic to think that change will not happen. We have to adapt. We have to plan. We have to constantly create options to deal with the inevitable changes that will come while holding dear our island way of life and the things that are important to us. We need to focus on the future and not be distracted by the embittered, divisive noise being used to foster fear and misinformation.
The challenges ahead may be difficult, but I believe that if we can act as good neighbors and friends toward a common good, there is nothing we cannot accomplish together. I love this island, and I have devoted much of my life to good citizenship, service to my country and public service, but this election isn’t just about me. It’s about our future. It’s about all of us, united not divided.
Chauncey Clark is a longtime Sullivan’s Island resident and Town Council member, chairman of the USS Yorktown Foundation and a Vietnam veteran helicopter pilot. He is a Sullivan's Island mayoral candidate.