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Candidates questions: Joanna Craig

Camden City Council race

Posted: October 20, 2016 5:18 p.m.
Updated: October 21, 2016 1:00 a.m.

Joanna Craig

In an effort to provide as equal a forum as possible, the C-I recently reached out to all the candidates running for Camden City Council by sending out questionnaires. The candidates were asked to answer all questions in their own words and the C-I tried to edit the answers as little as possible; most edits were done for space issues only.

Here are the candidates in their own words.  


Q: Why are you running for Camden City Council?

A: I have been passionate about Camden since I arrived in 1973. Not many towns our size can boast of designations of three districts and a national landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. Not many towns have preserved and actively interpret the site of their colonial and Revolutionary War history or have rightfully earned a page in every history book. Few have an archives/museum the caliber of ours, or preserved several early African-American structures to shine light on our important African American history.  Not many can boast of a diverse, major equine industry and an engaging steeplechase museum; a vibrant arts center and eclectic cultural community; growing and exciting sports and recreational programs and facilities; an excellent community hospital and related services, good schools – the list goes on and on! 

These are exciting times for Camden. We are coming together to discuss, plan and implement how to make Camden even better. I am a hard worker. I would be honored to channel my passion for Camden and serve the needs of the public as we move forward. It’s not about the job, it’s about the work. It’s about stewardship and Camden’s future. I’m up for it!


Q: What experience do you bring to the position? 

A: I bring experience from my work with the private/public and government sectors. I learned to listen, anticipate, interpret and deliver what people want from my years in retail. The relationship between retailer and customer is one-on-one. To cultivate repeat business you have to know and offer what customers want, keep abreast of market trends and provide a desirable shopping experience. We did all that and more and were successful. At Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site, I honed skills working with the public to create, promote and produce successful, fun, engaging events that had community and tourist appeal, like FireFest, Jammin’ in July, History Days, and Revolutionary War Field Days. 

I was a founding partner of the Battle of Camden Advisory Committee, comprised of local, state and national representatives. In our efforts to preserve the battlefield and seek National Park inclusion, I gained invaluable experience regarding how committees function, decision making, problem solving and compromise. I testified before a congressional subcommittee regarding a feasibility study funding request for NPS inclusion by Rep. John Spratt.  The room was packed. Seated next to the congressman, I had exactly three minutes to present a solid, persuasive argument, which I had written, in support of his request. It was daunting and a memorable experience… and we got the funding!


Q: What personal information would you like to include about yourself?

A: Ever since I was a small child, I had heard of Camden and the stories of its Founding Father, Joseph Kershaw, my fifth-great-grandfather, whose vision launched Camden into prominence. My father revered this place, and I visited here often. I actually stayed at the Court Inn, one of Camden’s majestic old hotels, now sadly gone.  I moved here in 1973, built a house, and in short-order became co-owner of the Corner Bookstore in Dusty Bend.  When my daughter Megan, a proud Camden High School graduate, left for college, I decided to finish my degree as well, and attended the University of South Carolina, majoring in psychology.  Revisiting my earlier publishing career at The New Yorker, I became managing editor of a national sporting magazine before being offered the position of Executive Director at Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site. At Historic Camden I was given the opportunity to share with visitors from all over the globe the very same stories of Camden and Joseph Kershaw I had been told by my father as little girl.  


Q: What makes your background and experience so uniquely suited to the job?

A: The purpose of city council is to provide representation, legislation and oversight. I have worked with a diversity of people from the dedicated city employees to international delegates, from Kershaw County schoolchildren to Hollywood film crews, and from local businesses -- Camden’s former Main Street program -- to the bi-state Carolina Backcountry Alliance. Through these experiences I have learned the fine art of collaboration and the ways in which one can -- and must -- listen to such diverse voices to produce unity.  Legislative decisions council makes impacts the zoning, land use, and future livability issues of our community.  As a long time member of the City Planning Commission, I am familiar with comprehensive planning, from building codes to utilization of demographic data, in thoughtfully developing a more effective plan to increase the quality of life for our citizens.  I embrace smart growth, environmentally friendly business, enhancing our recreational offerings, and well-maintained infrastructure. I have also served on various committees or volunteered on behalf of Camden Rotary, Kershaw County Historical Society, Camden Business Alliance, S.C. Thoroughbred Retirement Association and Camden Community Band. 

For Camden to continue forward with energy and vision, city council must create innovative enhancements that are both cost-saving and represent our citizens. I am not afraid to ask the tough questions and I know how to say, “no.” 


Q: What are some issues/problems you want to work on to solve or accomplishments you wish to achieve?

A: Everyone I’ve spoken to agrees city council has been doing great things to move Camden forward. I heartily agree!  Some of the remaining challenges include developing ways the city can create incentives to stimulate a bustling mix of shops, restaurants, and exciting attractions that broaden Camden’s ‘curb appeal’ for our citizens and our visitors. Strengthening Camden’s Historical, Equine, and Sports Tourism for our visitor will infuse serious revenues to the local economy. 

We need to be more business-friendly; work with the county to attract light industry that benefits Camden’s uniqueness; work to bring better, well-paying jobs for the families in our community; and to seek creative, yet fiscally conservative, solutions to reduce poverty, homelessness, crime and reoccurring infrastructure issues.


Q: What is your number one goal – one thing you want to accomplish in one term?

A: If I could only accomplish one thing it would be that we implement Phase I of becoming a Top 10 Small Town.  The criteria for this includes expanding our entertainment options as well as our arts and culture scene; promoting business growth; and improving our community engagement, where council works as representatives for the people – and not as ambassadors to the people.  


Q: What are some insights you have gained from meeting people on the campaign trail?

A: I have loved the opportunity to meet so many of my neighbors, the citizens of Camden. They are caring, wonderful, expressive folks – and almost everyone has agreed our city is headed in a very exciting direction.  Many of the concerns I’ve heard are quite fixable.  One of the greatest is a lack of communication between the city and the people.  This is why one of my goals is for the city to retain a Community Relations Liaison – someone who would provide a direct link to and from city government: answering questions and getting problems solved early -- when solutions are most affordable -- and keeping citizens informed of upcoming projects and events.


Q: What’s the most recent book you have read and/or movie you have seen?

A: I love our Little Theatre!  It’s like stepping back in time to the Golden Age of Hollywood in a delightful small town setting.  Some of the recent “talkies” I’ve enjoyed there include “The Martian,” “Mockingjay 2,” and “Fast and Furious 7”.


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