SC House District 19 Democratic Primary Candidates Answer Our Questions

For the past five years we have asked candidates questions regarding our advocacy.  For the June 12, 2018 Democratic Primary for SC House District 19 we have received answers from both candidates Carrie Counton and Hao Wu that are presented below.

Bike Walk Greenville does not endorse candidates, we provide this information to help voters make an informed decision.

Carrie Counton

  1. How would you describe your role in improving walking and biking infrastructure in upstate South Carolina?
    As a Representative for the State of South Carolina my role is to be the voice, the eyes and the ears for my District.  I’ve listened to my neighbors and one of their concerns is not having safe places for them or their children to walk or to ride their bikes.  This will change when I get elected because I understand the needs of my District. For some of my neighbors, lack of reliable transportation is often a significant obstacle to finding work. They may live far from available jobs, struggle to afford transportation costs, or have inadequate access to public transit.  For families that balance work, job training and child care, it can be even tougher to get where they need to be. I’m up to the challenge to meeting the demands of my District by making individual vehicle travel, mass transit, bicycling, and walking all as easy and efficient as possible.

2) What do you think are the biggest transportation challenges in the upstate?  In what ways do walking, biking and public transit play a role in solving these challenges? Transportation is about mobility, but so much more. Efficient transportation is critical to economic development, creating access to jobs and leisure, and ensuring freedom for people without cars or who cannot drive. If transportation options are well coordinated with smart land use planning, development can be guided to spur economic development and create vibrant, walkable neighborhoods.

            One of the biggest transportation challenges in the upstate is access to transportation.  Unfortunately, state transportation funding policy puts funding for transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects at a huge disadvantage, with the vast majority of transportation dollars going to fund highways. I will take the fight for more transportation funding to the State House. Walking, biking and public transit solve challenges in the following ways:  Quality of Life=People who walk and take transit to work are happier, healthier, and more socially engaged with their community. Jobs=Improving our public transit system means more jobs building infrastructure and maintaining the system and better access for those in my district to get to where they need to go, like work and school. More Transit = More Jobs. Safety= More and safer bike paths, sidewalks, and pedestrian crossings means fewer collisions with cars, which is better for everyone. Health=Biking and walking (“active transportation”) improves our health.

3)  Several long term use studies in Greenville have shown that there is significant interest in building and expanding upon pedestrian bike related infrastructure which is easier to build and maintain then car based infrastructure. How can Greenville respond in the short and long term to the demand for people centered design and planning?

Greenville needs to see that there is both a short and long term demand. They need to listen to residents and hear that there is a need because all people of Greenville use transportation as a means to achieve what they seek in their lives—access to employment; connections with family, friends, and communities; and access to consumer goods, health care, and recreational opportunities. My suggestion is to hold town halls with elected officials.  Hold meetings with both the City and County Council in person and online so that the people can express their needs and challenges.

4) The Swamp Rabbit Trail has a huge impact on the economy and quality of life in the Greenville area. Would you support funding trial networks? If so, what revenue systems would you propose for expanding the off road trails?  I absolutely would support funding trail networks. The Swamp Rabbit trail has had a positive impact on Greenville and my idea to increase revenue would be to have more parks attached to and alongside the Swamp Rabbit trail. Parks provide intrinsic environmental, aesthetic, and recreation benefits. They are also a source of positive economic benefits. Parks enhance property values, increase municipal revenue, bring in homebuyers and workers, and attract retirees. Increased property values and increased municipal revenues go hand in hand.  Property tax is one of the most important revenue streams for cities. By creating a positive climate for increased property values, the tax rolls will benefit in turn. Parks can both pay for themselves and generate extra revenue. Parks along the Swamp Rabbit trail while also expanding the Swamp Rabbit Trail would be a great financial investment for Greenville.

5) Other counties in South Carolina have used a penny tax to fund road improvements on a local level. Would you support the legislation allowing a penny sales tax option for road improvements including for biking and walking infrastructure?

 Yes, I would definitely support this legislation.

6) Providing safe routes to school for our children is a cornerstone of building livable, strong communities in South Carolina.  What role do you think the state and county should play in making it safer for children to walk and bike to school? The state and county play a crucial role in making walking and biking safe for our children.  Improving South Carolina’s education system is one of my top priorities and in order for children to have an education they need to have a safe way to get there by walking or riding their bike.  Our school buses are old and the school bus hours of operation are not conductive to all parent’s busy schedules. I would support any opportunity to increase funding and any investment that results in safe and enjoyable spaces for walking and cycling to school. Our state and local governments need to spend more on active travel. Our elected officials have a duty to make sure our children have safe environments for walking and riding their bikes.  

7) Greenville is one of the fastest growing cities of its size in the country.  What other cities should we look to for inspiration as we plan for the future in terms of multi modal transportation development such as walking, biking and public transit?

  Austin, Texas is the city we should look at for inspiration.   The city of Austin is currently taking a “complete streets” approach.  They improve streets for walking and biking – and travel by all modes. Complete street designs allow people of all ages and abilities to travel safely, comfortably, and conveniently.  The way a street is designed strongly influences people’s choice of travel modes – and their experience of safety and comfort using active transportation. https://www.austintexas.gov/activetransportationprojects

8)       Tell us about your personal experience riding a bike, running or walking for recreation exercise or transportation

         I walk around my neighborhood every day.  I live in the CedarVale neighborhood right past the ‘Tomatoe Vine’.  I walk to the ‘Tomatoe Vine’ on a weekly basis to purchase local vegetables and farm fresh, cage free eggs.  As a result of walking all aromy neighborhood, I meet my neighbors, which after realizing our State Government needs a fresh perspective, I made the decision to run for the State House for District 19. Being close to The Swamp Rabbit Trail was a key factor in our home buying decision. The pictures that I’ve used on my campaign materials were taken along the Swamp Rabbit Trail.   My neighbors include the kind people at Velo Valets and I cannot wait to have them repair my Cannondale bike so I can ride it along the Swamp Rabbit Trail!

 

Hao Wu

1) How would you describe your role in improving walking and biking infrastructure in upstate South Carolina?

In order for District 19 to thrive, a robust public transit system combined with walkable, bikeable road lanes are essential. As an activist on behalf of the community and a candidate seeking to represent District 19 in Columbia, I see my role primarily as that of an advocate and connector. I advocate by bringing the concerns of the community to the state house while I connect both public funding and private non-profit resources to help the communities solve their infrastructure problems. I volunteer for non-profits, and in the Upstate, we have amazing groups like United Way, Greenlink Transportation Coalition and Thrive Upstate which are all important allies in resolving the ongoing deterioration of our infrastructure.

 

2) What do you think are the biggest transportation challenges in the Upstate? In what ways do walking, biking and public transit play a role in solving those challenges?

South Carolina’s population is projected to grow 31% over the next 20 years to 6 million people and Greenville County is the fastest growing county in the state of South Carolina. South Carolina is the 2nd deadliest state in terms of road related death and Greenville county contains 3 of the deadliest roads in the state of South Carolina.
The only way to ensure our continued safety and economic prosperity is to create a multi-modal transportation plan for Greenville. This plan should include amenities like sidewalks and crosswalks, biking lanes and bike stations, and public transit options like buses and vans.

3) Several long term use studies in Greenville have shown that there is significant interest in building and expanding upon pedestrian and bike-related infrastructure, which is far cheaper to build and maintain than car-based infrastructure. How can Greenville respond in the short and long term to the demand for people-centered design and planning?

According to the study Millennials and Mobility​, nearly 70 percent of millennials, people 18 to 34, use multiple travel options several times or more per week. We as community advocates must bring these evidences to the attentions of our elected officials and contribute to the elections of officials sympathetic to the need for pedestrian and bike related infrastructure. In the short term we must demand funding for our public transit system and our pedestrian and bike lanes. However, in the long term we must realize that multi modal transit provides pragmatic benefits to our society. It saves money, allows opportunity for exercise and builds community. The future of mass transit will be built upon technologies which would allow seamless transition between walking, biking, payment, sharing and accessing public transit. Not only does this makes moral sense, but this is a golden opportunity for Greenville to lead the nation in developing world class technologies in transportation logistics

4) The Swamp Rabbit Trail has had a huge impact on the economy and quality of life in the Greenville area. Would you support funding trail networks? If so, what revenue sources would you propose for expanding the off-road trails?

Absolutely, Swamp Rabbit Trail is a success. Currently it is funded on a county level, however I believe that on the state level, Swamp Rabbit Trail could be replicated and should be funded. South Carolina Department of Transportation in 2014 came up with a plan called “2040 south carolina statewide multimodal transportation plan”. This plan calls for $65 billion investment over the next 20 years in terms of highway maintenance and highway expansion but only $5 billion for public transit. I believe this is deeply flawed and when elected as Representative of District 19, I will call for a true multimodal plan that budgets equivalent funding for mass transit, pedestrian amenities and bike lanes.

5) Other counties in South Carolina have used a penny tax to fund road improvements on a local level. Would you support the legislation allowing a penny sales tax option for road improvements, including for biking and walking infrastructure?

Spartanburg county approved penny sales tax in 2017 for road improvements and I would support a similar move for Greenville county. As a representative, I will show up to the county council meetings to advocate alongside my fellow advocates.

6) Providing Safe Routes to School for our children is a cornerstone of building livable, strong communities in South Carolina. What role do you think the state and county should play in making it safer for children to walk and bike to school?

Even though a few years ago, South Carolina budgeted for additional school buses, the situation is still deteriorating fast. In light of these problems, a multi modal plan that incorporates bikeable lanes and walkable roads for​ our school children is essential. The state must budget appropriately for these necessary amenities

7) Greenville is one of the fastest growing cities of its size in the country. What other cities should we look to for inspiration as we plan for the future in terms of multi modal transportation development such as walking, biking and public transit?

In South Carolina, Columbia and Charleston are the other two areas that are growing as fast as Greenville. Through a combination of federal grants, penny sales tax and ridership initiatives, both CARTA and Comet receive 4 times as much funding as Greenlink. CARTA recently rolled out a transit app that allows trip planning to much acclaim from its’ customers. If our sister cities in South Carolina were able to accomplish such undertakings, we should be able to as well.

8) Tell us about your personal experiences riding a bike, running or walking for recreation, exercise or transportation.

The Swamp Rabbit Trail is wonderful and I frequently utilize it to reach Travelers’ Rest Farmers Market. Breakfasts at Tandem and lunches at William’s Hardware Store have become a regular occurence in my monthly schedule. My office located at 400 Birnie Street is close enough to Swamp Rabbit Trail that I have choices when it comes to commuting to work. I applaud the communities and the people of Greenville that brought about these marvelous projects to fruition and made Greenville the city it is today.

District 19 Map

 

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