Meet Mayor Haynie


Why did you choose to run for Mayor?

I had been a columnist for the Post and Courier and an opinion columnist for the Moultrie News. I got real concerned about the direction of the town of Mount Pleasant, and I was inspired by my wife, who is a school teacher at Jennie Moore Elementary. It made me think about possibly running instead of just writing about it. I decided to get up from the keyboard and run for council in 2015, and got elected.
It just felt like the town needed a new leadership and new direction, and so I ran for Mayor. I wanted to provide a different kind of leadership. I am a Citadel graduate, and I had some pretty good leadership training and experience there, that I thought prepared me for this place and this moment. I am absolutely loving being here.

How did your education at the Citadel establish your leadership skills?
There is academic education at the Citadel that I think broadened my horizons. The military side and the leadership positions that I attained taught me some basic leadership lessons, and also gave me the confidence that I could be in a leadership position. It helped me know how a good leader would function, and that is one of the qualities of leadership. It is not that you have to know everything, but you have to know how to guide individuals to a solution. People that are smarter than you, or have better experience than you or whatever, know that they are part of the solution and that you come up with the best solution. That is what I am doing as Mayor, and one of the first things I had to do was assign the council committees. That is something that I had to do for the Moultrie News as well. I just felt really good about the council members that we had, and the things we need to do, and the promises I made in the campaign. There was a method to my madness of who I made the chairman of the committees and who I put on what committee, and I think good things will come out of it.

What would be some ways that we can preserve Mount Pleasant?

We can preserve Mount Pleasant by letting the people decide what this town is going to be like, and not letting that be so beholden to outside interest. The second thing is we can stick to the plans that are already in place, which is process both of law and of the practice of the town having its own comp plan, and everything. We have had good comp plans but it is when we’ve strayed from that, which council can do. Council can grant amendments and things, which led to some of the overdevelopment we have now. We can, as we are in the process of making the new comprehensive plans(local government’s guide for decision making), which have ten years of life. Think about it: this sets the tone for the next ten years. You can think about what the people of the town of Mount Pleasant want, and what they have said so far is that, in this last election, they want to slow growth down. They want to our infrastructure, roads, schools, and our green space all to catch up.

What else do you plan to do as Mayor?

I plan to stress the quality of life issues that make Mount Pleasant different from other towns. I have lived in other towns. I’ve traveled extensively, and I think Mount Pleasant is a very special place. With our waterways and marshes, we are very blessed to live on a coastal ecosystem. If f you live in Summerville and Moncks Corner, you do not have that at all. We need to take good care of our ecosystem..
We need to make Mount Pleasant a great place, so that your generation can come back and live here. Part of that is economic development, as opposed to just residential development. I had an hour-long meeting here today with somebody that was the head of a committee 10 years ago for the town, and it is time for us to do something similar again. We want to make the jobs, so that when you are a college graduate, there are jobs to come back to. Because right now, when you come back with a college degree, there are not that many jobs here in our town. We are going to try to make Mount Pleasant a magnet for white collar jobs. Not that we don’t like blue collar jobs, but when you look at our current population, the highest concentration is in retail and restaurants. That’s fine, and there is nothing wrong with those jobs, but for recent college graduates, there are not a lot of jobs. We have to grow our economy and try to make it so it is a great place for corporate companies and small business owners to set up shop.

What would be some of the biggest complications to preserving the town?

Development pressure is a big complication. There is a lot of money in developments in Mount Pleasant currently. We can’t be down on developers because they do not do anything that the town is unable to allow. We need to turn our focus in on the town government and see what we are going to allow, and what we think Mount Pleasant needs to look like. The Mayor of Mount Pleasant is not like those of Charleston, or North Charleston. All the power that the Mayor of Mount Pleasant really has is the power to lead. I am going to lead the council, and we are going to work collaboratively. I do not mean that we have prisoners of conscience, or that we do not allow independent thought. I think that the last two elections have helped to settle the question: Is there too much growth in Mount Pleasant? Most people would say yes. The question is what do we do about it. I want to be the catalyst to lead us to to those solutions, and I think we have a great council.

What are your thoughts on a second high school?

It is about time. I love Wando, but I think that 4,000 students is bursting at the seams. I think it is going to be a leadership challenge for the school district to decide who goes there, and who goes to Wando. It would help the town if they district people in there because right now, you have to have school buses from both schools going to every neighborhood. You are going to have double the amount of school bus traffic. If they district it, part of it will be Wando, and part of it will be Lucy Beckham [High School]. What I have been told right now, is that they are not
going to district the new high school. You could have two children going to different schools. Imagine the traffic. From the town traffic standpoint, it would help if they would make that decision. It will be welcome, and I will be glad to see it.

How can high school students be civically active in Mount Pleasant?

You can email council members or the Mayor, and share what you think on topics. We have committee meetings of every month, and council meetings the second Tuesday of every month. Come see the things we do. Make sure that your parents are involved. Make sure that they are registered and they vote, and if there is an issue they feel strongly about, they can contact town council. On our website, you can send an email to the mayor and all of town council. That is a great way to be heard. We will move some town council meetings to the North side of town.

How will you make sure that Mount Pleasant feels like the town council listens to them?

We try to answer emails from citizens. Sometimes the answer is I don’t know, but I will find someone who does. And sometimes the answer is that is a great question, why don’t we talk about that as council members, and maybe put it on a committee agenda. We need to follow through with our promises. You know, I have promised that if the people of Mount Pleasant chose me as their Mayor, I would do everything I could to keep our town special. That means not growing like every other town, and not looking like every other town. I am already working on it.