By Molly McBride, WCSC
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) – At the 11th annual Nehemiah Action Event, negotiators worked to get a clear yes or no answer from each public official present about several issues, including healthcare, housing, environmental justice, policing and education.
Event officials said all too often, people leave city or county council meetings without a clear understanding of where public officials stand on a particular issue.
One issue that sparked some debate was the filling of Gadsden Creek. Nehemiah Action Event officials called on Charleston City Council Members and Mayor Tecklenburg to overturn the city’s decision to fill Gadsden Creek, and to restore and revitalize the creek by creating a greenway and reconnecting it to Ashley River.
Two of the twelve Charleston City Council members were in attendance Monday night– Councilmember Perry Waring and Councilmember Stephan Bowden.
When Councilmember Bowden was asked if he would commit to restore and beautify Gadsden Creek in a way that prevents further tidal flooding, he said he isn’t convinced that restoring the creek is the safest option.
Bowden said he’s not opposed to reconsidering the decision to fill the creek, especially if there is another viable option, but believes the most certain solution to the flooding problems in nearby neighborhoods is filling the creek.
“The reality is that we have created such a terrible situation for people that live around Gadsden Creek. I don’t think that it would be the responsible choice to not give them the best solution possible,” Bowden said.
Another issue that was discussed was housing.
Nehemiah Action Event officials called on Charleston County Council to adopt the Housing Our Future Plan, with the inclusion of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
Graham Glaab, a student at Trident Technical College, addressed officials about the affordable housing problem in Charleston.
“Over 200,000 people in Charleston County have to decide between paying rent or mortgage and buying groceries or putting money away for their children’s college education,” Glaab said.
Charleston County Councilman Robert L. Wehrman said he would vote to approve the Housing Our Future Plan with the inclusion of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and that he would vote to establish a recurring source of funding for the affordable Housing Trust Fund. He was the only County Councilmember that attended the event.
Nehemiah Action Event officials also called on Charleston and North Charleston City Officials to implement all of the Racial Bias Audit Recommendations, and to continue analyzing and tracking the impact those recommendations are having on racial discrimination in policing.
On the City of Charleston Side, Councilman Bowden and Councilman Waring both agreed to participate in a stakeholder meeting with Charleston Area Justice Ministry and other community leaders in the next 90 days to discuss how to engage the community regarding the Racial Bias Audit. They also agreed to encourage the City of Charleston Police Chief to get racial disparity data and share that data with the community.
Councilwoman Rhonda Jerome, Councilman Mike Brown and Police Chief Reggie Burgess represented the City of North Charleston.
They all agreed to implement the recommendations of the Racial Bias Audit, and to participate in stakeholder meetings to engage the community.
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