Port Royal Town Council candidate profile: Mary Beth Gray Heyward

info@islandpacket.comOctober 25, 2013 

Mary Beth Gray Heyward

Age: 58

Office: At-large Port Royal Town Council seat

Number of years living in the area you seek to represent: Over 50 years.

Family: One grown daughter, Jennifer N. Phillips

Education: Education: High School, Associate Degree in Business from the Technical College of the Lowcountry, Extensive classes through the S.C. Municipal Association.

Current occupation/employer: Lowcountry Medical Group, Director of Clinical Services

Employment, military and volunteer history: 23 years with Lowcountry Medical; Lowcountry Council of Governments

Please list all public offices to which you've been elected, when and where: Port Royal Town Council since 1992

Please list any unsuccessful candidacies for public office and when: I ran for Beaufort County Council and was unsuccessful approximately 8 years ago.

Other prior political and government experience: LCOG approx. 20 years.

Key endorsements you've received: I feel as though every constituent that votes for me is a key endorsement.

Campaign contributions: None as of Oct. 25.

Campaign expenditures: None as of Oct. 25.

Largest donations: None as of Oct. 25.

Why should people vote for you?

I am a homegrown girl with family ties to the community. My 23 years of dedication and experience being on council has given me the knowledge of how to support a community as a whole. I have dedicated the last 23 years to being the voice for the people of Port Royal, listening to their needs and working to support the concerns of my constituents. I have always made the most advantageous fiscal decisions to help Port Royal grow economically and financially. I don't personally know my opponents nor what they stand for, but I have the expertise which only comes by experience in the day to day operations of Port Royal.

What are the three most important issues you would address if elected? How?

  1. The sale of the Port or Port Royal - Unfortunately, the sale of this property has been delayed for almost a decade. The property's redevelopment will serve as a catalyst for redevelopment along Paris Avenue. It also reopens this very important property to the residents of the Town. Speculation on the Port has been a hindrance to the Town. It's reinvigorating the downtown area - there are portions of Port Royal that need help. We are pushing forward a branding strategy that will help provide a blueprint to assist local business owners -- property owners. This effort not only helps downtown but also will help the larger Port Royal area.
  2. Continuing our beautification -- storm water efforts -- we have worked hard in the last few years to improve the overall appearance of the Town. We have improved our parks, creating storm water amenities that have dual functions, and focused on keeping our roads, bridges and sidewalks clean. These efforts have made a difference. They improve the Town's appearance, but have also added needed capacity to our storm water system, which improves the safety and makes us a healthy community.
What other issues do you see as important?

It's keeping our tax rates stable despite decreasing State support and grant opportunities. We have not increased our millage in several years. Creating as much economic development opportunity as we can, which are really components of my main three issues that I mentioned previously. We need to market the Town and attract the type of businesses that our people will support.

What specific steps will you take to make government more open and accessible to the public?

The Town is pretty accessible already, but we certainly can improve. I'd like to improve our communication through our website and Facebook account. We can do a better job of getting the relevant documents out to the public. I also support responding as quickly as possible to FOI requests. I realize we have a fifteen day window, but if you have the information readily available, it should be provided as quickly as possible. I also believe that we should not charge exorbitant fees for staff work related to gathering the information or ridiculous copy fees.

Have you ever been convicted of a crime (felony), been disciplined by a professional licensing board or organization or had an ethics violation filed against you? If so, please give the details.

No.

Have you ever filed for bankruptcy, been delinquent on your federal, state or local taxes? If so, please give the details.

No.

Are there any personal details about yourself that voters would be interested in knowing?

People need to know I'm a mother and a grandmother with a wonderful daughter and three beautiful grandsons. So I understand the importance of our future needs for Port Royal. I am a very compassionate individual, which I have demonstrated over my tenure as a councilmember of Port Royal Council. I have dedicated my life to that of helping others and making Port Royal a safer community for our citizens. I believe in smart growth for the future planning and development of the Town of Port Royal.

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