Name: Guang Ming Whitley
Party: Nonpartisan
Office: Mount Pleasant Town Council at-large

Whitley
  1. Why are you running?

It has been an honor to serve my community as a councilwoman for the past four years. I want to serve another term because I love Mount Pleasant and hope to continue to work toward preservation and enhancement of our great town. I have initiated numerous projects and would like to see them come to fruition. I have also achieved unanimous passage of multiple ordinances based on constituent input and wish to continue to do so.

2. What do you expect to accomplish if elected? 

I initiated the creation of the Settlement Communities Task Force, which will soon be making recommendations to council. I hope to help implement those recommendations. I also initiated an arts study and the creation of a fund to support the building of a community arts center. I want to continue to work toward designating land, creating a conceptual plan, and building public-private partnerships to achieve the center. I also plan to work toward implementation of our Comprehensive Plan through updates to our zoning code.

3. What distinguishes your candidacy?

I have an established record of working hard for our community. I initiated the Art on the Half Shell project, which has successfully placed public art at various locations around town. I initiated the creation of a Youth Council. I voted for permit allocation, the moratorium on apartment building, restrictions on short-term rentals, and lowering building heights. I also work well with constituents and council to achieve needed change, with unanimous votes on subjects ranging from adding vaping to the no smoking ordinance to humane tethering of dogs to establishing nondiscrimination ordinances.

4. Describe how the impact of climate change in the Charleston area would affect your work if elected.

As a community surrounded by water, climate change will have a huge impact on our future. At the local level, the best approach is to work toward preservation of greenspace, pervious surfaces, and trees. I would be guided by the recommendations of our Flood Resilience Committee, and support seeking grants to protect our tidal marshes and waterways.

5. Pick an issue you believe has not been adequately addressed by local government. Describe solutions you will pursue if elected.

The most overlooked issue is the town’s relationship to the Settlement Communities within the town’s footprint, whether they sit in the town or the county. How these communities are preserved and protected will have a huge impact on the citizens of Mount Pleasant. Some of the largest tracts of open space sit in these communities, and their historic nature justifies protection. The Settlement Communities Task Force is creating a report of recommendations, and it is my hope that the mayor and council will work to implement them.

6. Pick one urgent issue currently facing the office you are seeking (different from questions 4 and 5) and describe how you would address it.

The biggest threat to quality of life is the pressure to urbanize. Despite our large population, Mount Pleasant has maintained a town feel, with open neighborhoods where our children can bike and play. Our Comprehensive Plan limits more intense development to hubs where such things already exist. But the Plan is just a guide that must be implemented through changes to our zoning code. This is the next long-term task of the mayor and council.

7. Do you pledge to work with other council members to move forward collaboratively and to reduce partisanized bickering? How will you accomplish this?

I do. I have a good working relationship with the mayor and all members of council. Reaching consensus and collaboration are key to achieving positive change for our community. Sometimes opinions differ, and council members end up on the winning or losing side. Council members must not take votes personally and allow that to hinder future working relationships with other council members. One way to achieve this is to reach out to fellow council members individually to talk through ideas and develop rapport.

8. Please give a 150-word summary of your background.

G.M. Whitley was elected to Mount Pleasant Town Council in 2017. She earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Southern California and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was a member of Law Review and a moot court semi-finalist. After completing her law degree, G.M. taught at the University of Chicago and practiced intellectual property law in Los Angeles. She then retired from active practice to serve as Chief Operating Officer of the Whitley Household. In 2020, she co-founded Lattice Climbers, which is dedicated to teaching life skills to young adults.

G.M. is also President of the Girls State Alumnae Foundation and attended the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State in 1996, where she was elected governor. She has volunteered with the ALA Girls State program in a variety of capacities since 2000.