New mayor emphasizes importance of voting


Mount Pleasant Mayor Kathleen Ling poses for a picture on Jan. 15 at the Bovee University Center.

Kathleen Ling believes the quality of local government depends on involvement from its citizens.

After 40 years of being involved in local government, Ling was unanimously elected mayor of Mount Pleasant in January for the second time since 2008. This is her ninth year on the Mount Pleasant City Commission.

She said her main objectives are to to decide what will happen to the 300 acres of land at the former Mount Pleasant Center bought back from the state in 2010, updating the zoning ordinance and helping the city adopt a non-motorized transportation plan.

Ling said implementing this plan creates a more walkable and bikeable community.

How will a non-motorized plan benefit the community?

Mount Pleasant was once identified as one of the most walkable communities because of the size of the city. We are trying to bring it back to this. We want them to feel like part of the community and see Mount Pleasant as a desirable location and maybe decide to stay here after graduation. 

Having a walkable and bikeable community allows the integration of students into the community.

What do you plan on doing differently than your last term as mayor?
As the chairman of the commission, you want to make sure that all members of the commission get information and equal opportunity to express their views. 

My role is to make sure everyone is aware of what is going on and is respected as a member of the commission.

What is the biggest challenge as mayor?
The challenges are deciding as a group what people would like us to do. Politics at the local level is much more accessible to people, and I love it for that reason, but everyone has a different idea of what is best for the community. The biggest challenge is recognizing that not everyone agrees on how to make this a better community and learn to work together so we can come to a consensus on best policy.

What’s the best part of being mayor or part of city commission?
I know some people say nothing gets done, but things absolutely do get done. For example, the dog park that we spent over three years going from an idea to ultimately it becoming a collaboration. Many people thought it would never happen. It was a great sense of accomplishment to see it get done.

Why is it important for students to vote?
The quality of government you have is entirely dependent on the willingness of citizens being involved in it. If you’re not involved in the government, it deteriorates. For me, one of the most discouraging thing is the extent that people get turned off and how low our voting turnout is. 

For students, they are part of this community. Things we do affect them, so if they want a say in what gets done, they need to vote.