On February 14th, 136 votes were cast by Daufuskie Islanders electing three new Council members. The candidate receiving the next highest number of votes was added to the Council the following day when existing Council member Mike Loftus vacated his seat to pursue other interests. New Council members are Len Pojednic, Steve Hill and Dick Phelps with Chuck Hunter returning for a second term.
While all new Council members agree that access and increased ferry service are the island’s biggest concern, each feels that other issues must also be addressed. Among their primary concerns are better communication, community outreach and promotion of greater island unity. The new Council members relayed the importance of establishing better communication not only with residents but within the Council itself.
Melrose resident, Len Pojednic has been visiting the island since 1991. He and his wife Eileen bought their home in 2007 and moved to Daufuskie full time in 2011. Active in both Melrose and Haig Point committees, he is also involved with the DI Community Farm, Historical Foundation and Conservancy.
Pojednic’s main objective is to get better services for our island. Having worked as an attorney since 1971, he feels he is well suited to investigate municipal incorporation & other options that may help get better services for the island. He contends he “has no pre-conceived notion of incorporation being good or bad.”
Pojednic states “The Council meetings have been fairly well attended but it is generally the same group of people. We need to generate interest in the Council in our respective neighborhoods and work on greater outreach.
I would like to challenge my fellow Council members to each bring five new people to our meetings. In addition to our own areas though, Council member must be charged with reaching out and listening to the entire community.”
Pojednic would also like to see better maintenance of roads and garbage areas. He is particularly frustrated by the island’s litter problem. While this concern is addressed to a degree by Adopt-a- Road and Beach Clean-up efforts, he feels the problem needs to be tackled more broadly.
Steve Hill and his wife Mary Ellen have been home owners on Daufuskie since 2002 and moved to the island full time two years ago. Hill believes that it is important for the Council to establish a clear vision for the island’s future and that the plan must be based on what they hear from residents. He went on to explain his feelings, “I believe that islanders want improvements, but don’t want the character of island changed.Once a vision has been defined, it needs to be explained to residents, which may mean holding a series of meetings in several different island locations. The Council needs to take its message to the community.”
While eager to work on the largest issue of more effective ferry service, Hill feels smaller conveniences could make a big difference on the island. “I think a small country store, similar to the one in Palmetto Bluff and barber shop services (similar to Haig Point’s part time arrangement) available to the entire island would be welcomed and supported by islanders.”
Hill spent 22 years in the Navy and three years as the US Embassy’s Chief Financial officer in Afghanistan. He believes this experience will serve him well as he is interested in delving into and understanding the resources that Daufuskie provides Beaufort County and believes it will be a “journey of discovery”.
From the Historic District, Richard Phelps and his wife Dee have lived on Daufuskie with their children for 11 years. Phelps feels he can be an effective spokesman for that neighborhood representing their concerns. He notes the need for greater involvement stating “I hear many people grumble about what the island is lacking and I believe those are the people that need to get involved. Particularly in the Historic District, people complain that they do not feel they are represented, but they need to be willing to get involved, ask questions, run for the Council and/or at least attend Council meetings if they want to be heard.”
Phelps believes that when various committees are formed to tackle a problem, it is important to enlist islanders and involve them. They then become part of the solution. He states, “I would like to see more involvement and less attitude.” He says that he would like to help unite the island over common concerns and shrink the communication gap that he believes now exists between the various communities.
“More frequent, affordable ferry service to the island is obviously an issue and will be an ongoing effort. In the meantime, I would like to see public washroom facilities built on the island. This was seriously discussed and I understood, ready to become a reality more than 12 years ago. It’s time to get moving on some of these initiatives.”