Steven M. Baer
Number of years living in Ward 3: 8 1/2
Family: Wife, Sandy Baer; two grown children living in Boston and Philadelphia
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Education: Bachelor's and Master's of Science in electrical engineering; post-graduate courses in traffic theory, economics, numerical analysis and management taught by Bell Labs and AT&T
Current occupation/employer: Beaufort County District 2 councilman
Employment history: Bell Telephone Laboratories, AT&T, American Bell International, Bellcore (1963-01); Network Design Tools Inc. (2001-02).
Military history: None.
Volunteer: Indian guide and Indian Princess co-leader (N.J.); developed and taught a Saturday-morning science course at a New Jersey museum; board member and newsletter editor/publisher for Friends of the Hilton Head Library; developed computer expansion plan for the Hilton Head Library; ran games for a local senior center and organized an "Inverse PTA;" audio/video volunteer for several Hilton Head groups; helped Beaufort County set up and debug audio/video teleconferencing to make committee and council meetings more open and accessible to citizens; write a monthly technical column for the Hilton Head Computer Club newsletter
Public offices to which you've been elected: Elected in November 2006 to Beaufort County Council, District 2; re-elected in November
Unsuccessful bids for public office: None
Other prior political and government experience: None
Key endorsements: Rick Caporale, Beaufort County District 1 councilman
Why should people vote for you?
I have a quantitative engineering-economic background that enjoys seizing opportunities, finding solutions and getting things accomplished. I'm fair, evaluating all sides, seeking compromises and meeting goals for all. I consider all costs and benefits and look for cost effective ways to fit within constrained budgets. I'm independent, with no IOUs to any group, and experienced in my career and four years doing this on the County Council. I am available full time to dig deep and persevere.
What are the three most important issues you would address if elected?
1. Retaining the Heritage. I have recommended solutions, including a joint county/Town Council formal plea to the PGA Tour to permit six $1 million sponsors (including the town, county and state) instead of a single large one; increase ticket prices, including single-day tickets; taking a concerted look at reducing expenses; and finding ways to have the hotels, restaurants and villas that receive much of the benefit share more of the cost. I will also look under other stones.
2. Business stimulation/rejuvenation/town center. We need to understand exactly why properties are not being rejuvenated and put in place remedial measures. These may include long-term (land management ordinance or form-based code changes), as well as shorter-term efforts, such as simplification of town processes and mentors as guides through them. We should also consider designating an area as the future town center, and steer investment toward it. Based on what I currently see, this would likely be in the Shelter Cove area to synergize with existing attractors, creating a larger center of gravity.
3. Dredging analysis. We need an unbiased analysis of issues and potential solutions, including multiple options, costs and sources of funds. This will help guide the next step.
What other issues do you see as important?
Attracting tourists and residents via targeted advertising in alumni, professional, military and retirement journals; (improve) bike path connectivity, historical tourism and many more.
Airport issues need to be separated into two groups: A and B. A: It is important to rapidly find a reasonable, fact-based compromise to begin work to retain commercial turboprop service. This requires a detailed understanding of tree trimming and cutting, mitigation and noise abatement options, useful runway lengths, costs and airline issues. This will guide sincere negotiation. B: Longer term
On all topics, I feel strongly that by becoming more detailed and scientific in our analysis and formulation of positions, we will be able to do more for our community, within a given budget.
What specific steps will you take to make government more open and accessible to the public?
For more than five years I have pushed to provide electronic access to meetings and documents. I stimulated the first audio hookup to Lady's Island. This grew into the broadcast and two-way audio/video teleconferencing system we now use for all committee and County Council meetings. I assisted in setting up, and maintaining that system. Recently, I have been pushing to make committee and council meetings more accessible via on-demand Web access to meeting recordings. I support extending all electronic access to lower level meetings, such as boards.
I have provided my background analysis materials, including charts and tables, and insisted that they be included in the electronic public record. I encourage all to do that, so that citizens can understand the full positions, detailed motivations and analyses behind our votes.
I expect to adopt the same positions at Town Council, should I be elected.
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?
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy, been delinquent on your federal, state or local taxes?
Are there any personal details about yourself that voters would be interested in knowing?
I enjoy exploring and understanding problems, especially quantitatively. I have often found that new insights and solutions to tough problems surface when you do this. I also enjoy biking, walking, exploring cities, movies (especially old ones), books, mah jong, flea markets and most things technical.