I came to this lovely land not only for the beauty of the marsh and open water, but for the beauty of its people. Racial diversity was an important factor in where I chose to spend my retirement.
So in an area so culturally and racially diverse, why don't I see African Americans on Beaufort City Council? I see them at church, at cultural events, in our fine restaurants; but they are absent from City Council.
I know single-member districts have helped bring diversity to other city councils, particularly in Florida. And I know that the local NAACP has advocated strongly for this change. At-large elections, our current method, were often put in place with the intention of discrimination. So it seems positive to replace this system for that reason. We've come a long way from that sort of thinking here in Beaufort.
I see African American and white kids playing together, black and white businessmen and women having power lunches together, but I don't see a single African American on City Council, making decisions that have a large effect on their businesses, land-use regulations, appointment of judges and quality of life.
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The African American experience here is a part of our heritage and should be a part of the future we design together. Our community is 27 percent African American. One out of five council members being African American would give a 20 percent representation -- how fair and true.
St. Helena Island