Charleston has been losing population steadily for years. Everyone knows that, but no one is doing anything about it. The only effective way to deal with unwanted change is to change what we do and how we do it. We have to think outside the box. Some might say that's a time-worn cliché, but it aptly describes what the administration of our Capitol city must do.
A look at the Top Ten Fastest Growing Small Cities in the country is a good place to start. What do Conroe, TX, Meridian, ID and Buckeye, AZ have in common? They all count public safety, a low crime rate and an emphasis on outdoor living and activities among their biggest strengths.
My position on public safety and parks & recreation is consistent with what has made population growth in those cities ranging from 39% to 56% possible.
Next, we must change our mindset and start looking at obstacles as opportunities. I hear people complain about our senior, aging population, but I see that as an untapped resource that we can take advantage of. People complain about a downtown mall that has an increasing number of empty storefronts. I see that as an opportunity for repurposing that could be part of expanding our city's recreational options and be an economic development driver. In short, I see what others complain about as an opportunity to creatively make a difference.
It has taken decades for our population to drop nearly in half and there are multiple reasons that happened. But it doesn't need to take several decades to stop the exodus and actually start growing Charleston again. This will be a focus of mine on City Council and, coupled with emphasizing Public Safety and Parks & Recreation, I am confident we can engineer positive change.