“I’m not a career politician, I’m an engaged citizen”
“An elected official serves the people, not the other way around,” said Amy Fabri, leaning forward in her chair with the characteristic passion that has made her an invaluable asset to those interested in preserving the James Island community.
As the co-founder of Islanders for Responsible Expansion, Fabri has been instrumental in several local environmental issues. From the group’s initial cause of preventing the James Island Wal-Mart from expanding into mitigated wetlands and the preserved Dill Plantation tract, to preventing development around historical Morris Island lighthouse and protecting the Angel Oak tree, the Islanders for Responsible Expansion has become the go-to resource for citizen’s concerned about what’s going on in their community.
“People say that most people don’t care, that they’re apathetic,” said Amy. “But that’s not true. They just get frustrated because when things happen, they don’t know who to go to.”
The Islanders for Responsible Expansion, or IRE, work mainly through keeping the communities of Folly Beach, James Island and the City of Charleston informed about their communities. Upcoming meetings, which are often only posted on the side of the road or buried in newspapers, are posted on their website and included in email blasts to subscribers.
“We’ve turned into a resource,” said Amy. “People inform us about trees being removed and upcoming meetings and we find out about them and say ‘these are the actions we need to take.’”
It was through her work with the IRE that Amy became interested in politics and with the Charleston County Council elections quickly approaching, Amy Fabri has thrown her hat in the ring as a candidate for District 9, a seat currently held by Councilman Paul Thurmond. Although Thurmond will not be running in the 2010 elections, Amy will be up against Seabrook Island resident John DuBois and James Island Councilman Joe Qualey for the seat.
“I’m not a career politician, I’m an engaged citizen,” said Amy, quoting from her campaign slogan. “I haven’t held an elected office before, so I’m not beholden to anyone and I don’t have any baggage.”
Her strengths, she points out, are her ability to work with stakeholders and look outside of the box for solutions, and working with individuals and organizations in order to get things done. With such a broad range of communities in District 9, Amy feels that these abilities will be invaluable.
As a community activist, Amy has already been attending many of the local city and town Council meetings, as well as several impact meetings, including the discussions concerning the potential Johns Island Greenway.
“The issue on Johns Island is safety,” said Amy. “We can all agree that Bohicket and River roads are not safe. There have been no major changes to these roads since they’ve been built, and we need to look at all of that.” Above all, she said, we need to make sure the infrastructure is in place before developing any more of Johns Island. “The Greenway needs to be looked at in the context of how the island as a whole is shaping up.”
As for the issue of completing I-526, Amy feels that the project needs to be looked at more closely in terms of its finances and its legality. “State law says that when an area that a state road will potentially run through objects to the project, then that road can’t be built,” Amy pointed out in reference to the Town of James Island’s disapproval of 526 passing through their community. Both issues, she notes, have to do with moving traffic more efficiently and increasing safety. “Does it have to be these particular solutions?” she asked. “We’ll see.”
Amy Fabri grew up in Charleston and works for her family’s company, Polymer Ventures, the headquarters of which are located on Harborview Road, James Island. Her husband, Keith Ladeaux, works for Russ Cooper on Kiawah Island. They have four Labrador Retrievers: Angus, Shelby, Jackson and Rio. Amy is a founding member of Islanders for Responsible Expansion and is a member of the League of Women Voters, the Charleston County Democratic Women and serves on the board for Lowcountry Lab Rescue. For more information, visit www.amyfabri.com.