Collett, McCann make it official; race is on for Hilton Head Ward 6 seat

tbarton@islandpacket.comJuly 31, 2012 

John McCann made his living on Wall Street and is making his first run at public office.

Jim Collett came in third in a crowded field in the Town of Hilton Head Island's most recent mayoral election and has since spearheaded a campaign to improve wireless service.Both will seek the Ward 6 seat on Town Council, they announced Tuesday, the first day of the filing period for the Nov. 6 general election. Filing closes at noon Aug. 15.Seats representing Wards 1, 3 and 6 will be up for grabs in the nonpartisan races.

Collett and McCann, who will vie for a seat held by Mayor Pro Tem Ken Heitzke, were the only candidates to file Tuesday, according to town clerk Cori Brock. Heitzke, 83, has represented Ward 6 since 1997 and is the council's second-longest serving member. He has not said publicly whether he will seek re-election. Attempts Tuesday to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.

McCann, 71, and Collett, 65, support limited expansion of the island's airport, term limits for Town Council members, a village center at Shelter Cove and revitalized commercial areas. They also say they will seek to preserve the island's beauty and natural environment.

McCann thinks the scope and size of town government should be reduced and wants to encourage more transparency and participation in town decisions.

Collett says he wants to see Hilton Head turned into a telecommuters' paradise, the top place where people can live and work remotely.

"This is a vital issue for second-home owners and for people who can work anywhere -- many of whom might some day buy our homes," he said.Ward 6 includes Port Royal Plantation, Palmetto Hall, parts of Hilton Head Plantation and the Baygall and Mitchelville areas.Collett worked in real estate and network-planning for Bell Atlantic for 25 years before it became Verizon and chaired the town's Board of Zoning Appeals for five years.

If elected, he said he'll continue to push for better cellular communication and focus on upgrading areas like Northridge Plaza, Shelter Cove and Coligny.

He also supports lengthening the airport's 4,300-foot-long runway to no longer than 5,000 feet to satisfy island transportation needs and safety issues, and he favors noise barriers installed to protect nearby homes.

An airport master plan approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, Beaufort County and the town calls for a two-phase runway expansion to 5,400 feet.

McCann started on Wall Street as a clerk and retired in 2003 as chairman and CEO of Bridge Trading, a Reuters company. A former town Parks and Recreation Commission chairman, he wants council meetings televised to improve communication between residents and town government.

"My whole campaign is behind putting the island resident first, and for a long time, we have not done that," McCann said. "There needs to be more input from residents."

He also believes runway expansion should be within the current confines of airport property.

"I believe 4,800 feet meets our needs for a safe, viable airport that's compatible with our community," McCann said. "There's no need to disrupt the nearby community if we don't have to."

Both he and Collett say they believe council members should be limited to two four-year terms to bring "fresh ideas" to town government.

Related content

  1. John McCann campaign website
  2. Jim Collett campaign website
  3. Hilton Head council elections: Ferguson to run again; Heitzke faces challengers: June 30, 2012
  4. Candidates declare early in Hilton Head's Ward 6 2012 council election: Nov. 7, 2011

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