Name: Mike Sutton
Years living in area: 52
Family: Married to Nannette Brown Sutton of Beaufort; one son, in college out of state
Education: Beaufort High School class of 1977; attended University of South Carolina Beaufort; College of the Redwoods, Calif.; Texas A&M; Mass Maritime Academy (non degree courses)
Current occupation: Licensed commercial/residential builder
Previous employment: None listed
Military history: Retired Coast Guard chief petty officer
Volunteer history: None listed
Public elected offices: Current city councilman (at-large), since 2006
Any unsuccessful political campaigns: Ran for mayor in 2008
Other political and government experience: Served on Historic District Review Board, city of Beaufort, as vice chairman; served as a deputy sheriff with Beaufort County
Endorsements received: Not seeking endorsements
S.C. Ethics Commission statement of economic interests: City of Beaufort meeting pay worth $3,357 listed as personal income on statement filed Aug. 23
Campaign money raised: Nothing filed as of Oct. 1
Top three campaign contributors over past six months (amount): Nothing filed as of Oct. 1
Why should people vote for you?
For the past four years, I have worked diligently to understand the issues facing our city, including working through the tough economic downturn in the national economy that had a direct affect on city operations. During my past term, I spent hours of time researching and asking questions to form opinions on subjects related to council matters. I represent all citizens by voting on issues that are positive for the greater good, while balancing the rights of each citizen. I have and will continue to challenged the status quo and continually review the way our city does business. A vote to keep me working on City Council is a vote that reaffirms my work of the past four years. If a voting citizen is satisfied with the direction this council has taken the city, then he/she should cast their vote for me.
I'm excited that we have new candidates in this year's election and look forward to learning about their ideas and concerns for our city, but I don't really know their qualifications. When I decided to run for office, it was only after serving on a city board and being involved over time by attending council meetings and studying years of council minutes to understand how we arrived at our current place in process.
I formed an opinion along the way that change was necessary in the makeup of that council in order to clearly make our city great. Now, four years later, I am convinced that term limits that would force leadership change is an important step in leading this city into the future. I believe serving on council is a privilege, and I'm honored to have served.
2. What are the three most important issues you would address if elected and how would you address them?
Public safety. This will always be a top issue for any city, especially during difficult economic times. The ability of our city to monitor and improve this level of service is not only one of economics but rather one of the willingness to accept change. Change means doing business differently than we have in the past, and we need continued monitoring of what we are doing to ensure we make the right choices for our future. Having served in local law enforcement and with extensive experience as a federal emergency first-responder, I feel that I have the right life experiences to serve me in dealing with difficult decisions related to public safety. I will continue to support improved community policing and greater traffic enforcement concepts that will help in keeping our neighborhoods safe while sending the message to law breakers that the city of Beaufort means business and will not tolerate their activity with in our small community.
The city's tax base needs work. The relationship of our city's tax base with that of the larger community around us has been misunderstood or overlooked by local governments for many years. Regional growth and the cost it brings to the citizens of Beaufort County are not evenly split, and it often finds the municipal taxpayer paying more than their share for service delivery. I believe that past regional growth patterns, combined with restrictive or complicated municipal zoning practices, have indivertibly shifted the county-wide tax base into fragmented and difficult service delivery areas. This shift in development patterns over time has weakened our city's tax base due to the decline of investment within municipal boundaries. I will continue to work on rebuilding our city in an effort to maximize our tax base so that we can afford to provide the best service to our citizens.
The quality and vibrancy of the local environment is a major reason many of us have decided to make Beaufort County our home. The beautiful wetlands around us are simply magical and are a constant attraction that continues to inspire visitors to settle here. We must remember that our environment is fragile and we can do harm if we fail to be vigilant in it's protection. This protection includes keeping an eye on the local water ways to ensure that future generations can enjoy the heritage many of us are so lucky to have experienced. I will continue to be the best caretaker that I can working to ensure the values I learned as a child in doing no harm continue to be the base for difficult decisions.
3. What other issues do you see as important?
F35 future, water way management (mooring fields and day dock), historic preservation, traffic management, employee health care, steps to make government more open and accessible to the public. I believe our local government is open and accessible and do not believe this is an issue, however, I would like to see the city have its meeting televised, similar to what the county is presently doing.
4. What specific steps will you take to make government more open and accessible to the public?
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.
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 have a twin brother and grew up in a family of seven on Fripp Island. I experienced desegregation of our public schools first hand as one of the first white students attending St. Helena Elementary School. My brother and I were driven by the local sheriff to our first day at the school, an experience that continues to have an impact on my life. I retired from the U.S. Coast Guard as a chief petty officer. I met my wonderful wife on Bay Street. I have a college-age son attending West Chester University in Pennsylvania and studying to be an engineer. I love to garden, and my wife is my best friend.