Three people are vying for two seats on Bluffton Town Council in Tuesday’s municipal election. In addition to voting on the Beaufort County school bond issue, which will ask voters’ permission to borrow up to $344.6 million for school construction, renovations and updates, Bluffton voters also will be asked to reelect their mayor and choose two councilmembers.
Political newcomer Bridgette Frazier, a Bluffton native, is challenging councilmembers Harry Lutz and Dan Wood. Frazier said her authentic community voice as a young woman of color and her willingness to speak her mind on issues would make her an asset to the council.
Lutz, a Hampton Hall resident, represents an area of Bluffton experiencing huge residential and commercial growth. Before moving to Bluffton in 2010, Lutz spent most of his life in New Jersey — an area he said has faced similar issues related to growth. He strongly supports recreation facilities for the community and handicapped-accessible places for children.
Wood, who moved to Hilton Head in 1979 and to Bluffton in 1994, was elected with Lutz to town council in 2015. He’s a longtime proponent of protecting Bluffton’s historical resources and has served in various civic capacities, including president of the Rotary Club, founder of the Historic Bluffton Arts and Seafood Festival and several town committees.
Lisa Sulka is running unopposed for her fourth term as mayor. Sulka served one term on town council before running for mayor and has served as Bluffton’s top elected official since 2008.
The Bluffton Town Council is made up of the mayor and four council members who serve overlapping four-year terms. Although all council members’ votes carry the same weight, the mayor runs council meetings, is the most public face in the community and represents the town in dealings with other governments. Elected town council members are responsible for policy making and the hiring and firing of the town manager. Town Manager Marc Orlando directs the town’s daily operations, gives policy advice and is responsible for preparing the budget. Town elections take place every two years.
Occupation: Realtor and partner, Carson Realty
Public Service experience: Mayor since 2008; former Town Council member; former president of South Carolina Association of Mayors; member of various town boards and commissions.
Occupation: English teacher at Hilton Head Island Middle School, owner of catering company and food truck Chef B’s Eatz
Public service experience: Bluffton MLK Observance Committee president; serves on town’s ATAX committee; ran unsuccessfully in 2016 for Beaufort County School District Board of Education.
Key platform issues: Bluffton’s changing identity, oversaturated development, affordable housing, workforce shortages, diversity, protecting rivers and the coastal environment.
Harry Lutz (Incumbent)
Occupation: Managing partner with Harbor Light Insurance and Wealth Advisors
Public Service experience: Serves on Americans with Disabilities Act Grievance Committee; served on Bluffton Planning Commission for three years. 13, 14, 15.
Key platform issues: Overcrowding in schools, workforce housing, recreation facilities for community, facilities for children with disabilities, improving sewers and piping in the community.
Dan Wood (Incumbent)
Occupation: Retired from Palmetto Electric in 2015
Public service experience: Serves on town’s Affordable Housing Committee; previously served on Bluffton Planning Commission and the ATAX Committee; founded Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival; served on Bluffton Planning Commission and ATAX Committee; Lowcountry Council of Governments Board of Directors.
Key platform issues: Sustainable growth, local parks and recreation, affordable housing, protection of historic and cultural resources.