Name: Drew Laughlin
Years living in area: 33-year resident of Hilton Head Island
Family: Jane Laughlin, wife; four grown children, Philip Laughlin, Abigail Laughlin, Katherine Laughlin and Heather Alford
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Education: B.A., economics, with distinction, University of Virginia; J.D., University of South Carolina School of Law
Current occupation: Attorney
Current employer: Laughlin & Bowen, P.C.
Previous employment: Attorney, McNair Law Firm, P.A., Hilton Head Island; attorney, Qualey, Laughlin & Qualey, P.A., Hilton Head Island; attorney, Bowen, Smoot & Laughlin, Hilton Head Island; attorney, Bowen, Cooper, Beard & Smoot, Hilton Head Island
Military history: None
Volunteer history: Coach, Hilton Head Dixie Youth Baseball; Town of Hilton Head Island Corridor Review Commission (now Design Review Board), 1990-94 (chairman 1992-94); Town of Hilton Head Island Planning Commission, 1994-98 (chairman, 1996-98); board of directors, Hilton Head Plantation Property Owners Association, 1994-97 (vice president, 1995-96; president, 1996-97); board of commissioners, Hilton Head No. 1 Public Service District, 1998-2003 (treasurer, 2000-03); board of directors, Spanish Wells Club, 2003-05 (treasurer); ex-officio member, Mayor's Task Force for the Future (present)
Public elected offices: Hilton Head Town Council, Ward 3 (2003 to present).
Other political and government experience: Current chairman, Hilton Head Island Town Council Personnel Committee; member and former chairman, Hilton Head Island Town Council Planning & Development Standards Committee; member, Hilton Head Island Town Council Public Facilities Committee
Endorsements received: None listed
S.C. Ethics Commission statement of economic interests: $8,000 in personal income from the Town of Hilton Head Island
Campaign money raised: $5,050 from individual contributions and $125 from in-kind contributions, as of the candidate's last filing July 8
Top three campaign contributors over past six months (amount): $1,000 from Dr. Patty North (Hilton Head); $1,000 from attorney John Bowen (Hilton Head); $500 from Marlin Outdoor Advertising LTD (Hilton Head); $500 from attorney William Jenkins Jr. (Hilton Head); $500 from attorney Michael J. Howell (Hilton Head); $500 from attorney Charles Scarminach (Hilton Head); $500 from Sherwood Title Agency (Hilton Head)
1. Why should people vote for you?
I am a listener and a consensus-builder. I have a broad knowledge of the island and how our town government works. I have proven leadership skills and perhaps the most extensive and rounded record of community service among all the candidates. I am a 33-year island resident and have established a successful law practice. My local government and community leadership experience includes service as chairman of the Town Planning Commission, chairman of the Town Corridor Review Commission, president of the Hilton Head Plantation Property Owners Association, member of the board of commissioners of Hilton Head Public Service District and two terms on Town Council.
2. What are the three most important issues you would address if elected and how would you address them?
1. We need to create conditions that will attract private investment in Hilton Head Island. A vibrant, resilient economy will provide opportunities for generations of Islanders and support the cultural, recreational, and educational amenities we all enjoy. Our Land Management Ordinance should be more concerned with facilitating private investment to improve and revitalize our existing buildings and neighborhoods. Our zoning and site-development standards should be more concerned with form and function than with uniformity. All of this must be accomplished in a way that is consistent with our identity as a leader in environmental preservation and resource protection.
2. I will be a watchdog for our taxpayers. I will be a leader who carefully weighs our taxpayers' willingness and ability to pay against the ever-increasing demand for public services and amenities and continued pressure on our town government's sources of revenue. The year 2012 is a reassessment year for property taxes. It is reasonable to expect that real property values may be as much as 30 percent less than current values, and we will have to work with 2012 values for five years. If a mill is worth 30 percent less, it will require additional mills, in essence a tax increase, if we want to maintain current level of tax revenue and current services. At the same time, the current economic climate places pressure on business license fees, real estate transfer fees, accommodations and hospitality taxes, as well as other sources of town revenue. We need sound fiscal management that will keep our tax rate manageable for our residents and property owners, and we will need the ability to make some hard choices.
3. We need full community support for the Heritage golf tournament. This one is obvious, but still needs to be high on the list. We need to increase community support for the Heritage and do everything we can to assist in the search for a title sponsor.
3. What other issues do you see as important?
The airport. We must try to prevent this issue from dividing our community. I believe we should have a facility that will allow us to have commercial passenger service to Hilton Head Island. We can extend the runway to up to 5,000 feet on existing airport property without additional tree topping or removal. Best available information indicates this will be sufficient for commercial passenger service now and in the foreseeable future. We should be sensitive to the interests of those who own property near the airport.
Regional cooperation. Many issues, including improvement of Interstate 95 and Interstate 26, support for the Heritage, economic development, and education funding demand a cooperative effort by our regional governments and institutions. We cannot isolate ourselves and try to go it alone. I have the experience and personal relationships to hit the ground running in this arena, representing Hilton Head's best interests as a regional centerpiece.
Beach renourishment. Costs of beach renourishment have been rising dramatically. We will have to plan carefully to make sure we have a sustainable program.
Economic diversification. Communities must have a place for all generations. If our community is to provide opportunities for young families, it must provide opportunities beyond hospitality and retirement.
Improved technology infrastructure and access. This is essential to our economic development.
South island dredging. I believe that the current regulatory environment requires that the town take a leadership role, working with Beaufort County and our local legislative delegation, to seek regulatory approvals for a cost-effective means for dredging Harbour Town Yacht Basin and other south island marinas.
Support for the arts and historical, cultural and educational assets. We are fortunate to have and should support the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn, an arts center, a symphony orchestra and other venues for enjoyment of the visual and performing arts. The Mitchelville project promises to create a unique historical, cultural, and educational asset for the Island.
Support for resort and retirement marketing. Our hospitality industry will be the backbone of our economy for the foreseeable future. The money it brings in helps funds the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, beach renourishment and other contributors to our quality of life, and it supports our real estate industry and property values. It is important that we all understand how we benefit from our hospitality industry.
State government tax, education and home rule policies. State laws that restrict home rule and discourage ownership of second homes and investment properties are doing real harm to resort and retirement communities. We cannot place an unfairly disproportionate tax burden on non-resident homeowners and expect no effect on sales and values of these properties.
Community building. We can accomplish much more if we can establish community of interest and work together.
4. What specific steps will you take to make government more open and accessible to the public?
We have to maintain a welcoming attitude at Town Hall and make it clear that citizen input and service are necessary and desired. We must clearly communicate goals and strategies and solicit public discussion and debate, and continue to expand and improve use of technology to distribute information. We should consider televising council and committee meetings.
5. 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 details.
I have no criminal record. I have never been disciplined by a professional licensing board or organization or been found to have committed an ethics violation.
6. Have you ever filed for bankruptcy, been delinquent on your federal, state or local taxes? If so, please give the details.
7. Are there any personal details about yourself that voters would be interested in knowing?
I am privileged to have been the first person on either side of my family to have had the opportunity to go to college. My wife, Jane, is a nurse at Hilton Head Hospital. I enjoy boating and have a passion for listening to music, especially live, improvised music. I obtained a private pilot's license, although I am no longer an active pilot. My brother is an FBI agent. My son is an active-duty Air Force officer, my oldest daughter works for Saks 5th Avenue and another daughter works in hospitality on Hilton Head Island. My youngest daughter works for St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, N.C., where she graduated this past May.