Charleston has made improvements over the last decade, at-large City Council candidates said on Wednesday. But most agreed there is still work to be done.
Eight of the 10 at-large City Council candidates met with the Gazette on Wednesday to discuss the most important issues they see in Charleston, which included crime, youth activities, housing and amenities. Addressing each of those topics is part of making Charleston an attractive place for people to move and hopefully stay, they said.
Republican hopeful Jack Hoblitzell said he’s tired of going to moving parties for people he knows. While Charleston has a lot of good things going for it, the city needs to figure out how to deal with its changing economic climate.
“The industries that I think have traditionally provided good paying jobs for people in the valley have disappeared to a large extent. And so we’re in the stage where we’ve kind of got to navigate our way through that and figure out where we’ll go in the future,” Hoblitzell said.
Democratic challenger Libby Ballard said some taxes crate hardships for new and small businesses in the city.
“I do hear from small business people constantly in regard to, really, business tax disincentives and taxing situation and fee situations in the city that make it very difficult for some of them to survive,” Ballard said.
Ballard is the acting director of West Side Main Street—an economic development organization—and a former city neighborhood planner in Charleston.
A challenging business climate could also discourage young entrepreneurship, Ballard said.
“It’s a disincentive in some respects for young entrepreneurs to start businesses of their own. And I think in some respects that is the wave of the future in Charleston is to encourage entrepreneurship of our young people,” Ballard said.
Six of the 10 at-large candidates will be elected to council seats next month. Early voting in Charleston’s general election begins Friday, May 1. The election is scheduled for Saturday, May 16.