Good leaders see needs and concerns and bring people together to fix them. My wife would say I have been blessed with this gift, I’d say this is something I love to do. I seek to serve.
Marcia and I adore living on Hilton Head Island, this beautiful place we have called home for 18 years. Both in Maryland, where I spent most of my career as a corporate planner, and here in the Lowcountry during our retirement, I’ve been involved in numerous efforts to improve our community and have developed a strong ability to bring people together to get things done. This requires a lot of listening and developing a high level of trust.
It has saddened me to watch the bickering at Hilton Head Island Town Council over the past four years. I believe I have the skills to help our council get things done while building trust between the council and our fellow citizens — and among the council members themselves.
Over the past 30 years, the values of our island home are something most Lowcountry residents have shared and cherished. As a community, we have placed a very high value on protecting our natural beauty and avoiding uncontrolled development. We support the arts and our unique history. We have a passionate commitment to volunteerism. These values have made Hilton Head an incredible place to live. As a former chairman of the Town of Hilton Head Island’s Board of Zoning Appeals for five years, vice chairman of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra for three years, and current chairman of the board for Volunteers in Medicine Hilton Head Island Clinic, I have fought to protect these values.
To guide our island paradise into the future and to attract new residents, we need to realize how our world is changing and how Hilton Head is evolving. Getting on and off the island has gotten much worse in the past few years, and off-island communities have grown exponentially. Like most of our country, Lowcountry residents have become very dependent on their cellphones, and our service is spotty at best.
Transportation improvements and improved telecommunications are just some of the major issues we need to address.
Hilton Head Island’s quality of life attracted many people to the area, and parks and recreation are an important component. Families with children need safe places to relax and play. We need to keep Planters Row a green space. It was purchased with the town’s land-acquisition program, which is designed to conserve open space and create parks on the island.
We also need an agreement that ensures that airport expansion is finished, and we need to explore some form of workforce housing. I want to help us work together to address these issues as an island community with the larger good in mind.
Jim Collett is running for the Ward 6 seat on Hilton Head Island Town Council vacated by John McCann. The special election is Feb. 19.