Here is the most recent set of questions and answers for those who may not have seen them on Nextdoor. You can also go to the Nextdoor website to see all the Q & A’s.
Q&A Greenville City Council at-Large candidates As you probably know by now, ASK is a committee of neighbors who will be asking Greenville City Council Candidates a series of questions up to Election Day. We did not edit the responses of Russell Stall or John DeWorken. For those who may not know, “at-Large” candidates will represent the entire City of Greenville and not a particular district. Please feel free to comment and send us your own questions here or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out our Facebook page too – (www.facebook.com/pg/ASKcandidates)
1. SALARY INCREASE? – Do you support an increase in the salaries of Greenville City council members? If so, why? If not, why not? John: Honestly, I have given this issue zero amount of thought. Instead, I have focused on issues that neighbors and residents of Greenville have told me are important, including growth (how to put much more thought into a balanced growth), protecting and preserving neighborhoods, investing in green spaces and parks, the economy and traffic, to name a few. Russell: While this is not a very important issue to me, members serving on Greenville City Council have not received a compensation adjustment since 1993. While no one on City Council serves for the money, Council members are expected to devote a significant amount of time to the job and should be adequately compensated. Council should explore moving toward compensation parity with peer cities.
2. TOO NOISY? – The city noise ordinance appears not to be enforced along Wade Hampton and downtown with loud motorcycles and blaring car radios. What will you do about it? John: As the North Main president, I often hear the concerns among neighbors about noise, particularly unacceptable noise after hours from traffic and from construction. I have heard this complaint throughout the City, as well. There are two very simple tactics we can do to reduce noise: 1. Ensure noise ordinances are adhered to as it relates to construction after hours. 2. Continue to work with the chief of police to ensure we have enough officers to enforce traffic issues, such as running stop signs, speeding, and loud noise. Russell: Enforcing the noise ordinance is an important role of law enforcement. If there are issues of noise on Wade Hampton and in Downtown, these issues need to reported and our law enforcement should enforce the law.
3. RECYCLING – Many residents are unhappy about the decision to no longer include glass in the city’s recycling pickup. GLASS -Would you be willing to support an alternative recycling service that would include glass? BOTTLE DEPOSITS? Also, would you support a deposit tax on glass bottles to reduce waste? STYROFOAM – Would you support a ban on styrofoam and plastic bags to reduce the trash on our parks and streets? John: I strongly support an alternative recycling service that includes glass. As for beverage container deposit laws, it is my understanding that currently nine states have enacted beverage container deposit laws that are still in existence today. To ensure uniformity and less confusion among consumers, distributors and retailers across municipal and county lines, I believe such a law should be done at the state level. As far as a ban on plastic bags and Styrofoam, I believe we should focus our attention on the litterers. How do we ban plastic and Styrofoam? Do we ask our law enforcement to walk through the parks and streets to ensure people do not have Styrofoam or plastic bags in their possession? There are many questions at hand as to how most effectively reduce litter in our community. I look forward to discussing the best solutions. Greenville is a beautiful town. Litterers have no place in Greenville. We need to work hard to keep it that way. Russell: Greenville no longer recycles glass because Pratt Industries, which handles Greenville’s recycled materials, no longer takes glass. However, Pickens County uses a different vendor and has been able to continue recycling glass because they have the infrastructure to separate the colors of glass. I would like to reopen the conversation about the possibility of recycling glass. We should strive to reduce our dependence on Styrofoam and plastic bags. Our friends at Folly Beach and Isle of Palms have elected to ban plastic bags and I believe each community should have the power to enact such a ban if that community decides, after study, it is appropriate for their community. Legislation was introduced last year: General bill H. 4793 that would have allowed a “ban” on plastic bag bans. This bill targeted local governments by preventing towns and cities (like Isle of Palms and Folly Beach) from enacting their own local waste-reduction solutions, including plastic bag ordinances. The bill would take away the right of local communities to make their own decision about banning plastic bags. While it was tabled in the SC House earlier this year, it will probably be reintroduced in January.
4. TREES – How would you improve the tree ordinance to protect legacy trees and to prevent clear cutting? John: Trees and tree-canopied roads are part of what makes Greenville unique and beautiful. We should continue looking at the ordinance to protect and preserve our neighborhoods, parks and green spaces; and we can look at the ordinance to look at opportunities as how to we can continue enhancing what makes Greenville unique by encouraging the preservation of hardwoods; and, the replanting of hardwoods that become our legacy trees. Russell: I am a strong supporter of keeping the “Green” in Greenville, especially in maintaining our beautiful tree canopy. Ten years ago, I was involved unsuccessfully in creating a strong Greenville County Tree Ordinance. A weaker ordinance was approved, which does not adequately protect Greenville’s trees. I have not thoroughly studied the city’s tree ordinance in depth, so I do not know how I would propose to change the specific language.
5. AFFORDABLE HOUSING – What measures would you like to see implemented in the city for affordable housing? John: My plan includes, but is not limited to, appropriations similar to the recent City appropriations that is geared toward affordable housing; doubling our efforts in public transportation to ensure that people can get to jobs and healthcare; and, providing incentives to developers who set aside a percentage of new developments for affordable housing. Russell: Last week, I went on a tour of affordable housing projects with Ivory Matthews, Director of The Greenville Housing Authority. These new projects that the city is investing are an exciting step in making housing more affordable for residents of the city and the county. The $2 million the city has allocated to affordable housing is a good start, but not enough. I would like to see the city develop a consistent funding stream to improve our affordable housing. I would also like to see housing that is affordable for our workforce; those who work in our restaurants, hotels, office buildings and schools, so anyone can afford to live in the city.
6. DENSITY – Are you planning to bring the infill ordinance up for review? The specific concern is to prevent construction density at a higher level than the surrounding area. John: All of our ordinances should be constantly up for review, whether formally or informally. Just because an ordinance was recently enacted or updated, that does not mean that we should not continue to work on providing the best direction for our City. If changes are needed, then it is appropriate to bring up an ordinance. Saying that, the City should provide a balanced approach to infill: Infill that is comparable to the surrounding neighborhood; infill that does not strain the neighborhood or City resources; and infill that adds value to our neighborhoods. There is a sweet spot to growth and infill where all will benefit. Russell: While I support density, especially Downtown, to help reduce traffic, sprawl, and transportation issues, I need to consider the current ordinance in effect and how it might be improved. I do believe that any new development must fit within the scale, personality, and authenticity of the place and neighborhood where it is developed. Density development should match the character of the neighborhood it is developed in.
7. THE FUTURE – What are you most excited about for the future of Greenville? What are you most concerned about? John: What I am most excited about is the number of people in our community that will work with me and others to ensure Greenville grows in a balanced, thoughtful manner; that in 20 years, we will all look back and smile because we grew in a way that preserved our small town feel, protected our neighborhoods, grew the economy and invested in our parks and green spaces. In that same light, my biggest concern is unchecked growth. However, I believe in the people of this City and know that we all will work together so that our children will inherit a Greenville of tomorrow that we all enjoy today. Russell: I am most excited about the development of the new Comprehensive Plan, Greenville’s 10-year strategic plan. Eight years ago, I conducted the community survey for the current plan. Needless to say, much has changed in eight years and it is time for a new plan. The new plan must address the impact growth has had and will have on our infrastructure, including our sewer and transportation systems. The new plan needs to also address our development mix, as well as the lack of financial mobility faced by the people who are born into poverty in our community.
John DeWorken 18 East Earle Street Greenville, SC 29609 (cell) 864-905-5529 JDeWorken@gmail.com
Russell Stall 17 Riverside Drive Greenville, SC 29605 864-430-0636 Russell@russellstall.com
We thank John and Russell for taking the time to respond to our Qs.