July 2020

A Note from our Mayors

Author: John McCann, Lisa Sulka

A Note from John McCann
Rally Sets Stage for More Community Engagement
The month of July is typically one that is welcomed in under the banner of celebrating freedom. We celebrate with fireworks, cookouts, family reunions, vacations and more.

This year, however, at least in our town, we’re skipping the fireworks. Families will still come together, albeit likely in smaller gatherings. And the thought of freedom is now juxtaposed with interwoven cries for justice and change, particularly for African Americans who have been fighting for decades to be treated fairly and equally.

At a recent rally, I observed just how important issues around equity and freedom are for citizens of the Hilton Head Island community. This Rally for Justice and Change followed the heartbreaking death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Our local Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Department, and representatives from the town and other groups within the community organized this powerful yet peaceful event.

To me, the great results produced by this event are what makes this island such a special place. We heard from a diverse group of citizens who shared stories about the injustices they have witnessed, experienced first-hand and prayed to protect themselves and their families against. They spoke of the changes that have been made and those that they would like to continue to see happen all across the island. Many of us who attended walked away with a greater understanding of the diverse people and cultures that make up our community, and I want to personally thank those responsible for helping to organize and execute this event so successfully.

The rally gave us a starting point for conversations we need to continue to have with each other. It is now up to us to ensure that these conversations move forward into actions. Organizations in our community are working on avenues to connect people for these conversations, and we will be ready to support these endeavors.

Aside from organizing the rally, the MLK Planning Committee hosts a multi-day event every January to celebrate Dr. King’s birthday and his ideals, and other events throughout the year to bring our community together. Since the rally, the committee has turned its attention to three areas: voting, education and police reform. The committee needs dedicated volunteers to help determine and implement strategies in these areas. If you are interested and have the time and energy to devote to these causes, please email hhimlkcommittee@gmail.com.

Our friends at the Mitchellville Preservation Project are hosting a series of virtual discussions on race, equality, economics, diversity, education, and citizenship. I encourage you to tune into some of these conversations and learn about the perspectives other thought leaders are sharing. You can visit exploremitchelville.org to learn more about these sessions. As we look to address freedom and justice for all and be an island that embraces all races and celebrates our diversity, it’s essential to lend our support to organizations like Mitchelville and the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee.

Our Hilton Head Island Town Council’s Intergovernmental Committee recently held a virtual listening session to hear concerns from residents. We plan to continue hosting these types of sessions and explore ideas that may be possible to implement. In the end, our goal is to make sure we are engaged with all of our citizens, regardless of race or background, and that we are creating a community where we all respect each other. 

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A Note from Lisa Sulka

Recently, I was on a call with the mayors of South Carolina and Lt. Governor Pamela Evette. She has been asked to lead the 2020 Census Committee for our state. I learned so much on this call and hope that this article will help all of you understand the importance of filling out your census. There are great sites to look at, and if you are competitive like me, you will want our town to be the highest percentage in response.

The state had an official kickoff on June 17, and you will now begin seeing a lot of information on social media and the news, encouraging people to fill out their census, either online or by mail. The deadline to self-report, is October 17, so we have a lot of time to get this completed.

We have been told in the past that results from the census help states, counties and towns with funding schools, parks, infrastructure and much more. Everything we receive from the federal government today is based on results of the 2010 census, and the results of that decade were 20 percent under what we should have completed. Guess what? Today, when so many businesses were trying to get funding to keep their doors open from the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the fact is that this state was 20 percent underfunded by the CARES Act because they rely on the census data to fund states. That alone is unacceptable.

The common reason many residents give for not completing the census is that they are fearful that data they provide will be handed off to other departments in our government. That is not true. In fact, this data is secure and is not allowed to be released for 72 years. If you want to read more on this, visit census.gov (under history/genealogy) or email me, and I will send you the link to connect.

I filled out my census online last month, and it took all of 90 seconds to do it. So, there really is no excuse not to help this town by filling out the form.

There is a great site to go on to see how we match up for this census and compare to the 2010 census. Go to censushardtocountmaps2020.us.

Let’s be number one in the state for completing our census in 2020: 2020census.gov. 

Effective March 2020, we closed all town buildings to public access until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please visit our website at townofbluffton.sc.gov for more information. You may also check our town Facebook account for news at facebook.com/TownBlufftonSC.

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