Questions and Answers About What David Bennett Believes/Hopes to Achieve as Mayor
Q. What is the cornerstone of your leadership platform?
Bennett: The cornerstone of my platform is simple: Listening First. This means asking questions and listening to what both Hilton Head Island residents and property owners expect from our town and would like to see in our community. It doesn’t mean pushing through my agenda or the agenda of only a few insiders. That attitude alienates people. I sincerely want to know how people feel about our community so we can make it a better place for all – not just a few. I was raised to do more listening than talking. I have learned that by listening I have a much better framework for decisions. In general my belief is more input is better than little or no input. I hope that most of my fellow council members feel the same way. I believe that they do.
Q. What are your feelings about economic development?
Bennett: We are seeing the decay of our public areas up and down the Highway 278 Corridor. We must understand that unless one continually reinvests in an asset it will soon lose its value. We cannot rest on our laurels. Our unique community is the result of a valuable legacy of leadership in community planning and environmental stewardship. I believe that Don Kirkman and his team on the Economic Development Board understand what our Town needs to reach the next level. I will do all I can to help their efforts.
Q. How would you personally go about improving our Town?
Bennett: I would forge an Islandwide vision or masterplan with active public participation. I believe we need to develop and implement a strategy for enhancing economic development that specifically targets growth opportunities more aligned with our sense of Island values. In that regard some of the ideas I would like to see pursued are the following:
A. Provide all necessary infrastructure to achieve Island wide wired and wireless broadband.
B. Devise and implement a plan for ridding our community of aging and dilapidated structures via incentives to private owners and pursuit of public/private partnerships via a to-be-formed Redevelopment Commission that will report directly to the Town Council.
C. Carry through with the already approved runway extension to 5,000 ft. and renovate/modernize the airport facilities.
D. Take advantage of Hilton Head Island’s natural assets along with its medical and retiree presence to entice medically related business to relocate here.
E. Deal forthrightly with the embarrassing issues of unpaved roads and unavailable sewer in several sections of our community.
F. Pursue a strategy for attracting the corporate hospitality market (executive retreats and other similar high-level meetings) by encouraging continued improvements to resort properties and assembling a suitable site for a 5-star resort hotel.
G. Implement a strategy for creating quality workforce and affordable housing so that essential workers like firemen, police, teachers and nurses as well as those working as chefs and retail clerks can afford to live in the community where they work.
H. Get the Mitchelville Interactive History Museum off the ground by finding experts to work with the current board to create a viable plan for funding and operation.
I. Introduce term limits in order to establish freshness in Town Government. No more than three terms (12 years).
J. Build a more solid foundation of trust in our institutions of government. I am a strong advocate of transparency for any aspect of public enterprise that is supported by tax dollars. This includes the Chamber of Commerce, the various arts facilities and other similar organizations.