THE TEGA CAY SUN Q&A

Reposted from a Tega Cay Sun Candidate Spotlight Article Monday October 9th, 2023 by Patrick Byrne.

As part of our continuing effort to bring relevant local news to our readers, we’ve proactively reached out to the five candidates running for Tega Cay City Council. We’ve provided them with a series of questions designed to provide the answers you need in order to decide on the candidates who will occupy the two available seats…

This week we’ll feature Carmen Miller, a local Realtor & business owner who lives in Tega Cay.

Please refer to the following article for the list of additional candidates: https://tegacaysun.com/2023/09/08/candidates-for-tega-cay-city-council/

Q: Please state your name: 

A: Carmen Miller

Q: Please state your occupation: 

A: Realtor®/Business Owner

Q: How long have you lived in Tega Cay? 

A: 18 ½ years

Q: What do you believe is the role of the City Council in our community?

A: In Tega Cay’s Council/Manager form of government city council members serve as the guiding force behind the city’s progress. Their primary mission is to guide the city toward fulfilling its strategic vision, creating ordinances and resolutions while carefully assessing their impact on the city’s future. City council members work collaboratively to influence its growth, development, and overall quality of life. Their ultimate goal is to create a safe, vibrant and responsive community that aligns with the shared vision and values of its residents.

Q: What skills and experience do you have that you believe would be beneficial to you as a Council member? 

A: As a business owner, I bring a valuable set of skills and experiences that I believe would be highly beneficial as a Council member. First and foremost, I have successfully grown a profitable business from its initial concept, which demonstrates my ability to take a vision and turn it into a reality. This experience has honed my skills in budgeting, forecasting, and long-term planning, all of which are essential for effective financial management within the city.

In my business, I’ve been responsible for making critical decisions that have a direct impact on the company’s success. This experience has taught me the art of decision-making, weighing pros and cons, and ensuring that choices align with both short-term goals and long-term strategies. I understand the importance of return on investment (ROI) and can apply this knowledge to evaluate the effectiveness of city projects and initiatives.

Moreover, my experience in dealing with contracts has provided me with a strong foundation in contractual matters and negotiations, which are vital aspects of municipal governance. I also recognize the importance of maintaining positive public relations to foster trust and transparency with the community.

Conflict resolution is another skill I’ve honed as a business owner, as I’ve had to navigate and resolve disputes as an integral part of my business. This expertise can be invaluable in addressing and mitigating conflicts that may arise in the city.

Lastly, I firmly believe that Tega Cay could greatly benefit from a business perspective in its leadership. My experience and insights into entrepreneurship and economic development can contribute to fostering a thriving business environment. Overall, I am committed to leveraging my skills and experiences to serve as an effective Council member and to help shape Tega Cay’s future in a positive and sustainable way.

Q: What previous community involvement have you had in Tega Cay or another city? 

A:

  • Currently a member of the Tega Cay Economic Development Commission (less than 1 year)
  • Previous member of York County Planning Commission (2 years)
  • Member of the Tega Cay Lions Club
  • Member of the Tega Cay Good Life Club
  • Annual sponsor of Tega Cay Rec for 16 years
  • Annual sponsor for FM Schools for past 16 years
  • Regularly sponsor local organizations and clubs
  • Donated the Gazebo at the Memorial Garden

Q: What do you see as top priorities for the City and why? 

A: Fiscal Responsibility and Sustainability:

  • Priority: Safeguarding future sustainability is crucial to maintaining economic success and a high quality of life in the city. It’s essential to adapt smart, fiscally responsible spending and budgeting strategies to ensure longevity and stability.
  • Why: A projected 7-10% reduction of income due to the ending of impact fee collections requires a proactive 10% reduction in spending to avoid deficits and maintain future balanced budgets.

Commercial Development and Entrepreneurship:

  • Priority: Bolstering commercial development, with an emphasis on attracting entrepreneurial businesses, is crucial. Implementing a business attraction platform with temporary managed tax discounts can incentivize businesses to set roots in Tega Cay.
  • Why: This approach lessens the dependence on residential development and fosters a more diverse and resilient local economy, encouraging reinvestment back into the community and ensuring sustained growth.

Reinvestment in Community Amenities:

  • Priority: A concentrated effort to reinvest in existing parks, trails, and infrastructure is vital to enhancing residential enjoyment and maintaining quality of life.
  • Why: Developing policies that prioritize resident use and the revitalization of older amenities ensures that residents continue to enjoy high-quality, well-maintained recreational spaces, contributing to the overall well being and involved community.

Supporting First Responders and Enhancing Safety:

  • Priority: Continuing robust support for Tega Cay’s First Responders is essential to uphold the city’s reputation as the safest city in South Carolina.
  • Why: Introducing initiatives that address problem areas, like higher crime statistics near Walmart and permit/parking violations in area parks, will reinforce public safety and maintain the community’s confidence in local law enforcement agencies.

Q: Have you previously served on a governing board of any type (business, government, non-profit organization, church, etc.) or as a leader in any organization? If so, please briefly describe the organization(s), your role, and the number of years you served in that capacity below. 

A:

  • Currently serve as CEO/Owner of a local business- 15 years
  • Coach/Mentor- 10 years

Q: What do you believe are the three (3) greatest strengths of the City of Tega Cay? 

A:

  • It’s Residents/Community
  • Safety/First Responders
  • Recreation Lifestyle/Parks/Amenities  

Q: Does your interest in serving on the City Council stem from a personal interest or goal? Is there something in particular you hope to accomplish while serving on the City Council, and why is serving on the Council important to you? Please elaborate. 

A: My aspiration to serve on the Tega Cay City Council originates from a profound, personal commitment to preserving the essence of Tega Cay, a city where my husband Scott and I have raised our family. This desire is not just a reflection of my personal commitment, it is also intertwined with my dedication to ensuring that Tega Cay remains prosperous and sustainable, promoting safety, and community values for everyone.

My motivations and goals for serving are deeply connected, focusing primarily on enhancing fiscal responsibility, fostering commercial development and entrepreneurship, revitalizing community amenities while prioritizing the quality of life for residents, and staunchly supporting our First Responders. 

Serving on the Council is more than a role to me—it’s a vital responsibility that enables me to actively participate in shaping the city’s trajectory, influencing its strategic vision and progress through purposeful leadership. In this capacity, I can contribute to long term and short term planning, striving to create a vibrant, responsive community that resonates with the shared values and visions of its residents. 

Q: Please list any areas you believe the City of Tega Cay could improve upon: 

A: Communication:

  • Transparent Processes: The city should make a concerted effort to communicate the decision-making processes clearly, ensuring that residents understand how and why certain decisions are made.
  • Supporting Data: Providing access to supporting data and information that underpins decisions can help residents better understand the rationale behind city actions.

Accountability :

  • High Standards of Integrity: The city council and city manager should deepen opportunities to uphold high standards of integrity in their decision-making and actions, always prioritizing the best interests of the community.
  • Transparent Accountability: Accountability mechanisms should be transparent and easily accessible to residents, reflecting the community’s values and expectations.

Fiscal Responsibility:

  • Long-Term Sustainability: While balancing the budget is important, the city should also adopt a forward-looking mindset, ensuring that spending and expenses align with future sustainability goals. Care should be taken to protect against potential future tax increases, considering the burden it may place on residents and businesses.

Community Engagement:

  • Additional Opportunities for Volunteerism: The city can work on creating more avenues for residents to get involved and volunteer in community initiatives and events.
  • Community Recognition: Recognizing outstanding community members and their contributions can foster a stronger sense of belonging and pride.
  • Cultural Engagement: Promoting cultural diversity and engagement  can enhance the community’s richness.

Addressing these areas of improvement can lead to a more engaged, informed, accountable, and financially responsible community.

Q: The City Council must render decisions regarding the implementation of policies and/or programs that may be somewhat difficult. Are you willing to take on the responsibility of making decisions that are in the best interest of the public even though they may be somewhat difficult?

A: I am willing to shoulder the responsibility of making challenging decisions that serve the public’s best interest. My approach to decision-making is pragmatic, analyzing pros and cons and treating each decision as a puzzle, fitting pieces together based on the best available information, and adjusting as new information arises. My method is proactive, thoughtful, and analytical, always striving for common ground. While I seek consensus, I am not afraid to make difficult decisions when they are in the best interest of the community. The well-being and progress of our city are my top priorities. 

Q: What do you believe is the single most compelling issue facing the City of Tega Cay?

A: There are two compelling issues facing the City of Tega Cay that encompass both immediate and equally important long-term concerns.

Immediate Issue: One immediate and highly compelling issue is the management of the deer population. Currently, the city faces a divisive conversation surrounding deer, with emotions running high. The deer population has soared to over 1200, well above the recommended norm of 300-350 for the area. It is essential to address this issue promptly for the health of the deer herd and in response to the needs of the residents. The city council has already taken steps by initiating the permitting process for a culling program, set to begin this fall or early next year. While this program will not immediately reduce the deer population to the desired norm, it represents a necessary first step. Moreover, exploring additional methods for long-term management, such as the non-lethal PZP option proposed by the Tega Cay Wildlife Conservation Society, is essential. Given the current information available, a hybrid solution, incorporating both culling and PZP, seems to be a practical approach.

Long-Term Issue: Managing the city’s growth is equally compelling. This involves a strategic focus on commercial development to generate hospitality tax revenue, which should be a high-priority goal. Collaborating with future developers to prioritize green spaces, including parks, increased tree coverage, and sidewalk/trail connections, is crucial for preserving Tega Cay’s natural beauty and quality of life. Encouraging local entrepreneurship and small business participation in commercial growth is vital to ensure that development aligns with the values and lifestyle of the city’s residents. Implementing a business attraction platform, potentially through temporary managed tax discounts, can incentivize businesses to invest in the community, further contributing to Tega Cay’s long-term sustainability and prosperity.

Addressing these immediate and long-term issues with a balanced and forward-thinking approach will be essential to ensuring the continued well-being and growth of the City of Tega Cay.

Q: Please tell us about any other activities, specialized skills, knowledge, or professional experience that would contribute to your effectiveness in serving on the City Council.

A: I will bring a results-oriented approach to the City Council, with a strong ability to set goals and create effective plans. Effective communication and a commitment to understanding others’ perspectives are key strengths, facilitating collaboration and consensus-building. Additionally, my independent thinking allows me to introduce fresh ideas and innovative solutions. 

Q: Many are concerned about the growth within Tega Cay. What’s your plan to help ensure we maintain a small town feel while continuing to grow appropriately? 

A:

  • Foster Community Connections: Encourage additional new community events, cultural celebrations, and local festivals that bring residents together. Promote Local Arts and Artisans.
  • Promote Volunteerism
  • Encourage Local Entrepreneurs: Provide support and incentives for locally-owned businesses and discourage the influx of large chains. 
  • Protect our parks, trails, trees and green spaces

Q:  Is there anything you’d want to tell us about yourself and why the people of Tega Cay should vote for you?

A: I’m truly energized and filled with positivity when I think about the potential for a better Tega Cay. I firmly believe that the best days for our community are still ahead of us. What makes our city special is the unique blend of passionate individuals who deeply love Tega Cay and hold steadfast to their values and vision for our collective future.

I see it as our shared responsibility as leaders to seize every opportunity that comes our way and channel it towards a sustainable, thriving Tega Cay. It’s not about maintaining the status quo but about evolving and growing in a way that preserves the essence of our city while embracing positive change.

I am genuinely proud and humbled by the opportunity and privilege to serve and contribute to preserving the unique spirit and character of Tega Cay. I wholeheartedly believe that, together, we can make our city an even better place for all of us, today and for generations to come. Thank you for considering me as a candidate, and I look forward to working hand-in-hand with you to make our vision for Tega Cay a reality. #THISISOURTOWNs

Link to article https://tegacaysun.com/2023/10/09/tega-cay-city-council-candidate-spotlight-carmen-miller/

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