Hilton Head Island enjoys a wonderful synergy between tourism and residential interests. This drives progress that benefits everyone. But that balance is delicate and could swing too far in either direction.
For example, it appears to me that recent plans for the Coligny area and other secretive plans might be an early warning sign of an imbalance between the influence of commercial and residential interests.
How could this happen?
Town decisions are made by seven elected officials (six Town Council members and the mayor). It only requires a few swing votes to push through questionable legislation or plans. It could be possible for a well-organized and funded group to place or influence sufficient people on Town Council to do this.
Town elections have become expensive, including large donors and campaign professionals, and costing as much as presidential campaigns in dollars per voter. A well-funded group could push its candidates over grassroots candidates, especially since voter turnout is low.
A look at large donors in recent elections and the Chamber of Commerce's expensive campaign several years ago for a new 1 percent sales tax shows that some folks believe that big money can impact elections.
Given these possibilities, wouldn't it make sense to have a group focus and lobby for residents' interests? That could provide balance, given the presence of well-organized and politically-connected folks lobbying for their own goals. Think about it.
Steven M. Baer