Name: Lee Dittrich
Office: Mount Pleasant Town Council at-large
- Why are you running?
As a retired law enforcement professional with 25 years of experience, this would be a continuation of that public service just in a different capacity. I am a resident of Mount Pleasant and I want to preserve the traditions and culture of the town and continue its prosperity into the future. As a former Police Officer in Mount Pleasant, I have a comprehensive understanding of the various issues spanning across the approximate 58 square miles that make up our town. If provided with the privilege and opportunity to serve on the Council, I will not only lean on my personal experiences and observations, but receive input from residents and businesses to offer common sense solutions to the various issues that require attention.
2. What do you expect to accomplish if elected?
There are numerous objectives but we have some priorities to tackle first before they become a major crisis for our town. Our police and fire departments are currently experiencing a major issue with employee retention due to low wages and poor labor practices. We cannot continue to lose experienced first responders to other jurisdictions. Secondly, I would also like to encourage future residential developments to dedicate a percentage of their units for workforce housing for our young professionals, first responders and hospitality industry personnel. We also need to extend these housing opportunities for seniors that live on fixed incomes.
3. What distinguishes your candidacy?
My candidacy is unique in that as a 25-year law enforcement professional, I served in a leadership role that required me to manage disasters involving acts of terrorism, natural weather events, mass casualty incidents and other events that involved a prolonged recovery. I am prepared to serve our community in a leadership role and approach the various issues with decency, common sense and compromise. My leadership role in my law enforcement career required the management of personnel and resources as well as remaining fiscally responsible. I have also been a small business owner with my wife and can sympathize with other small business owners and the challenges they face.
4. Describe how the impact of climate change in the Charleston area would affect your work if elected.
Climate change must be a consideration of everything we embark upon as a local government. As the sprawl of our footprint expands with the development of new residential and commercial spaces, we must consider what the impact will be with the loss of this open space. What effect is it going to have on our soil, water, wildlife and air quality? On the local level of government, we can establish rules, laws and accountability for the principles that we want to commit ourselves to so that we do not compromise our valuable resources and the beauty of Mount Pleasant.
5. Pick an issue you believe has not been adequately addressed by local government. Describe solutions you will pursue if elected.
There has been significant discussion about the traffic congestion in our town. The unprecedented growth of Mount Pleasant comes with challenges for our roadways. While we cannot prevent vehicles from entering our roadways or reduce the number of vehicles utilizing our roadways, we can implement common sense solutions that will alleviate some of the traffic conditions we are experiencing. Our town averages over 50 collisions per week, many of which could have been prevented if better traffic control and designs were in place. As a former police officer in the town, I can identify the problematic locations and make various recommendations on how to mitigate the issue.
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 Town of Mount Pleasant is currently in the midst of a public safety crisis with its police and fire departments. Both agencies are currently experiencing an exodus of experienced personnel to pursue opportunities with other agencies in the low country. Wages and labor practices have been the underlying reason why our police officers and firefighters are leaving. The starting wage for a firefighter in our town is $ 11.77 per hour. This is not a livable wage for our first responders and it is simply unacceptable. Our Town Council will tout a 2% increase as a “raise” when in reality only amounts to less than $ 3 extra per shift.
7. Do you pledge to work with other council members to move forward collaboratively and to reduce partisanized bickering? How will you accomplish this?
Nothing in politics gets accomplished unless there is discussion and compromise. We all share mutual goals and visions for our town. We may have different opinions on how to reach them. I am willing to listen to my fellow members of Town Council and offer my constructive opinions and point out concerns. Common sense must prevail when handling the business of our town. If we are stubborn or resistant to the ideas of others, we will become unproductive and stagnant. That is a loss for all of our residents and businesses. I remain committed to fiscal responsibility and will ensure that we consider spending when embarking on new ideas and projects.
8. Please give a 150-word summary of your background.
I am a retired law enforcement professional with 25 years of experience with my career beginning in the New York City Police Department in 1996 where I served for 3 years. I then served with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police for 20 years where I retired as a Lieutenant overseeing the Special Operations Division tasked with responsibilities that included counterterrorism, traffic safety, homeless issues and crime control. Upon retiring, I accepted a position as a Police Officer with the Mount Pleasant Police Department and served in the patrol division for approximately 2 years.