Name: Jen Gibson
Office: Charleston City Council, District 1 (special election)
1. Why are you running?
I am running because I want our district represented by someone who will protect our quality of life. I was raised in the Lowcountry, graduated from the College of Charleston, and spent my entire professional career here, so I know the right people and organizations to get the job done. My husband and I are raising our son here, and I want to leave the City of Charleston stronger for him, for all of our children. I know I will always do what is best for the city, not one organization or advocacy group.
2. What do you expect to accomplish if elected?
I will better integrate services with Charleston city and Berkeley County in District 1. It is difficult to get a consistent answer to basic municipal service questions and even harder to determine the person responsible for rectifying a problem. The unique position of our emergency services becomes more dangerous for residents every day. Second, through careful zoning and annexation, I will help guide and balance new residential development, critical public safety infrastructure, and essential small businesses to serve our growing community. Third, I will add new parks, walking trails and increase multimodal transportation in our district.
3. What distinguishes your candidacy?
I am not a single-issue candidate, and I am knowledgeable about all the issues before the city council. I have relationships with city officials and community organizations that are already well-versed with our city’s problems and possible solutions. I have a proven track record of working with elected officials and residents of District 1 to advocate for our fair share of resources. District 1 is vulnerable because of its unique physical location in the city and inclusion in Berkeley County. I have the advocacy skills and personal connections to protect our interests while doing what is best for our city.
4. Describe how the impact of climate change in the Charleston area would affect your work if elected.
The climate crisis is such an overarching problem that it must be a consideration for every decision made by the council. It is not just an issue that affects infrastructure, transportation, and flooding. We need to align our tourism planning, zoning, and tax policies with known strategies to combat global warming. A guiding principle for every decision I make is what impact this decision will have on our environment. If it doesn’t improve our efforts to combat the climate crisis, I will research if a solution that will accomplish our goal and be environmentally responsible exists.
5. Pick an issue you believe has not been adequately addressed by local government. Describe solutions you will pursue if elected.
Affordable housing is an issue every government official and business owner knows we must address, yet we are not making enough progress. First, we must honor the stated goals of the Affordable Housing Strategic Plan for the Use of Bond Funds. Unfortunately, the current process does not. Second, we must work with developers to determine how we can become partners. The expectation is that developers and taxpayers will solve this crisis together. Both must bear responsibility and compromise to avoid comprehensive zoning and tax policy changes. The council’s hands are not tied, and it’s time we act like it.
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.
City of Charleston districts face the same challenges, except for District 1. Most of District 1 is located within Berkeley County. A complicated plan to divide or delegate our municipal services has evolved over the years to the point that very few people understand it. In addition, our physical location requires city employees and emergency personnel to cross a different municipality and multiple bridges to reach us. With the significant growth in this area, we must dedicate more resources to better integrate services for Daniel Island and Cainhoy Peninsula residents.
8. Do you pledge to work with other council members to move forward collaboratively and to reduce partisanized bickering? How will you accomplish this?
I pledge to always act with civility and respect with every resident of our city and my fellow council members. It is a privilege to represent my neighbors and our interests, and I would never abuse the trust they have placed in me with inappropriate behavior. I choose to find commonality with fellow council members and build from there. In almost all cases, we have the same goal. We just need to collaborate and compromise on how we will get there.
9. Please give a 150-word summary of your background.
I have lived in Beresford Hall for 11 years and grew up in the Lowcountry. My husband and I just celebrated 24 years of marriage, and we have a 13-year-old son. During my career, I enjoyed working in three fields, insurance, new construction design, and travel, which has given me the skill set needed to help shape our rapidly growing district. Whether navigating flood zones and building codes or balancing a thriving tourist city with the needs of its residents, I bring decades of experience as a small business owner and long-time resident. I currently serve on the Board of Directors at Trident Literacy and enjoy working with various nonprofits dedicated to improving our city.