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Oct 29 2010

Kiawah Island municipal elections

Every two years, the Town of Kiawah Island elects four council members and a mayor to serve as their voice, not only to the other island entities, but to the county, state and nation, as well. As we build up to the elections on Tuesday, December 7, The Island Connection will present more in-depth discussions with each of the five candidates vying for the four open Council seats. In the meantime, following is a brief statement from each candidate briefly discussing their qualifications and goals:

Alan Burnaford

Council candidate

I am Alan Burnaford, and I am running for a position on the Town Council of the Town of Kiawah Island (TOKI). My wife Ellie and I moved here “full time” in November 2000. I have had two careers. During my military career, I spent six years on active duty and fourteen years in the reserves as a naval aviator. I am a Vietnam veteran. I retired as a Lt. Colonel in the Marine Corps. Nineteen of my thirty years of corporate life were spent in Europe and Asia managing international and worldwide businesses. I was a Vice President and officer of Armstrong World Industries.

I have been a member of the Town’s Planning Commission for two and a half years (Chairman, 2004), and have been a member of the Kiawah Island Town Council for the past six years (Mayor pro tem during 2008 term).

The Council has been very active over the last six years. With the property owners’ help we completed a development agreement with our Developer (KDP), the erosion on the east end of our island was stopped, and the beach was renourished and it is thriving today. This project was undertaken with the cooperation of KICA, the Resort (KIGR), the Developer (KDP), and the Town (TOKI). We updated the Town’s Comprehensive Plan this year. Code Red (emergency alert system), Town Notes, and our website have been revamped to keep Kiawah residents better informed. The parkway project, just completed, turned our entry into something of which we can be proud. Finally, the Council passed a development agreement with the Resort (KIGR).

I want to continue to serve on the Town Council and to work to keep Kiawah special. We must continue to have a good working relationship with KICA, KIGR and KDP. The visions of all four entities, TOKI included, must be in line. We must continue to address issues related to infrastructure on Johns Island and continue to work closely with the Town of Seabrook, Johns Islanders, Charleston County Council, Charleston City Council and our State Legislature as Johns Island develops. Communication with all of you is a key issue as we move closer to build out. Whether you are a full time resident or not we value your input and we strive to keep you informed because this is your island.

My experiences on the Planning Commission and as a town councilman have helped me understand the issues Kiawah faces, both on and off the island. I would like to work for Kiawah for another two years.

Alan Burnaford

58 Salt Cedar Lane

Kiawah Island


Charles R. Lipuma

Council candidate

Since moving to Kiawah in 1992 I have been very active in Town and community affairs. In 1993 I was appointed to Kiawah’s first Planning Commission and was Chairman for 10 years. Other service includes Committee Chair for the design and construction of Town Hall, Kiawah’s representative to Johns Island Council and in 2001 I participated in Charleston County’s Lower Johns Island Road Study. I also participated on KICA’s Governance Committee, and currently am a Director on the Sea Island Habitat for Humanity board of directors.

In 2004 I was elected Kiawah Town Councilman and was given responsibility for Environmental Affairs and Performing and Visual Arts. I promoted and managed the successful East End Beach Repair and Renourishment Project, coordinated a complete updating of the Town’s Comprehensive Beach Management Plan and drafted our first Beach Management Policy. As chair of the Arts Council we brought to Kiawah a broad array of well received musical, dramatic and arts events.

As Councilman, I bring experience, energy and openness to Town governance. My focus on Council will continue to be preserving Kiawah Island’s uniqueness, natural beauty and ecosystem; enhancing our sense of community and quality of life, and protecting property values.

Fran Wermuth

Council candidate

My family first came to Kiawah Island in the mid-1980s. We quickly grew to love the Island and visited as often as we could over the next 20 years. Three years ago, Kiawah became our permanent home. The beautiful environment continues to delight us, our children, and now our five grandchildren.

After 26 years of service, I retired from the federal government in 2006. During that time, I worked in the U.S. Senate and various law enforcement agencies in the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. I hold a Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies: Economics and Public Policy, from George Mason University.

I currently serve on KICA’s Security and Safety Committee and am a regular contributor to the KICA Digest. I’ve been involved in the KI Turtle Patrol, Haut Gap E-Mentoring Program, and the Historic Charleston Foundation.

Over the past year, I have interacted with the Town Council regarding its change in the dog ordinance. That endeavor made me realize I should abandon my passive “retirement” lifestyle and become an active Kiawah citizen in order to keep abreast of the many issues that face Kiawah residents.

To that end, I hope to serve the residents of Kiawah Island as a member of the Town Council. I will work to encourage openness in Town government. As a Councilmember, I would bring a solid knowledge of security issues, plus an interest in supporting and protecting the Island habitat. I strongly believe that the natural habitat of Kiawah is one of its dominant strengths. Balancing the needs of the natural world and the developed property on Kiawah will continue to be important as we enter the final phases of Kiawah’s ultimate build-out.

Greg A. VanDerwerker

Council candidate

Raised in Connecticut, I graduated from University of Vermont (Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and received my M.D. degree from Emory University. I was in a hospital-based pathology practice at Self Regional Hospital in Greenwood, SC, for almost 25 years.

We purchased our Kiawah property in January 1994 as a vacation home with the intention of moving here upon retirement. Fortunately, we were able to accomplish our goal and moved to Kiawah in 2006.

In the summer of 2007, the KICA Board asked me to chair KICA’s Strategic Planning Environmental Committee. Since then I have served continuously on both KICA’s Land and Lakes and the Safety and Security Committees. I am past Program Chair of the Kiawah Naturalists Group, and this year I serve as Vice President of the Kiawah Property Owners Group (KPOG).

My “off-island” activities include volunteer work with Sea Islands Habitat for Humanity and Fields to Families. I have also been actively working with members of the Johns and Wadmalaw Islands communities to find a solution to the safety issues of Johns Island roads that is acceptable to our island neighbors.

Laura and I have two grown daughters, one living in St. Louis, MO, and the other in downtown Charleston. No grandchildren, as yet.

I believe the best solution to a problem comes from receiving input from as large a base as possible and analyzing each point of view thoroughly and openly, even if they cannot all be accommodated at the same time. I hope to continue serving the community, this time as a member of Kiawah Island Town Council.

Harry McHugh

Council candidate


My wife, Toni, and I have lived on Kiawah for 12 years. I was first elected to Council for the 2008/2009 term. In that time, I have served as Chairman of the Environmental Committee and have led the Town’s effort to make recycling available to all Kiawah residents and their guests. That effort included extending the Town subsidy for the collection of solid waste and recycled materials to all residents, including regime and HOA property owners.

I believe I have a good grasp of the unique government architecture on Kiawah and the partnering relationship that must exist between the Town and the Kiawah Island Community Association. I also appreciate and understand the residential and resort balance that must be maintained if our island community is to continue to prosper.

I believe that Kiawah must be seen as an active part of the Sea Island Community and not as an isolated, gated community for the advantaged. To that end I am the co-founder of the Sea Island Youth Golf and Tennis Program. This program has provided leadership and team building skills for hundreds of children in Wadmalaw and Johns Islands schools through free golf and tennis instruction. I have also been an active proponent of the Town continuing to regularly fund community charities and educational/cultural activities on the Sea Islands.

I am a marketing graduate from the University of Wisconsin’s business school. The first eighteen years of my business career was spent with AT&T. From that point on, I have been involved in entrepreneurial activities, including ventures in robotic welding, accounts receivable management and real estate development. I am currently in real estate sales.

I believe the Town of Kiawah is on the right course. I am proud of where I live and will continue to work hard to make Kiawah Island a community to celebrate.

Harry M. McHugh

55 Salt Cedar Lane

Kiawah Island


Mayoral candidate


I graduated from the State University of New York Maritime College and Union College in Schenectady, NY, with a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. After two years in the Maritime Industry and four years in the U.S. Navy, I joined the General Electric Company. Over the next 33 years with GE, I held a variety of domestic and international management positions and was elected a GE Vice President in 1993. I retired in 1999 and my wife, Pat, and I moved to Kiawah. We wanted to become an active part of our new community and volunteered with the Kiawah Island Community Association, as well as other charitable organizations.

I was elected to the KICA Board in 2000 and served my last year on the Board as President. I was elected Mayor of the Town of Kiawah Island in December 2002, and am now serving my fourth two-year term.

The past eight years have seen continued positive progress by the Kiawah Town Council to improve the quality of life for the property owners and citizens of Kiawah. Working together, the Council negotiated and passed a groundbreaking Development Agreement with the Kiawah Island Golf Resort (KIGR), completed the construction of the parkway and bike path, and the Town continues to reap the benefits of the largest non-federally funded beach restoration project on the east coast of the United States. Our bird population in this area has increased and the beach growth all along our ocean front continues. A new program we are very proud of is the recycling initiative which Councilman Harry McHugh is driving across Kiawah. We utilize the professional expertise and experience of each Councilman to lead these and other projects. Without the dedicated efforts of our Councilmen, none these accomplishments would have been possible.

But we are not done yet! Our reaching out to Seabrook and Johns Island communities to have a larger and more powerful voice for our joint needs has been effective. We have shown our leadership capabilities with the State legislature property tax reform that has not only reduced our property tax bills, but will also limit the growth of those taxes. We continue to upgrade the Town’s staff to better serve and respond to the needs of our citizens, and will continue to train and improve their capabilities. We will also continue to work closely with the Kiawah Island Community Association (KICA), the Developer (KRA) and the Resort (KIGR) to jointly serve our community better.

Through the actions mentioned above, as well as continuing to support our Art’s Council and the various local charities which we can legally support, we will strive to build a better and ever-growing community.

I hope that I have fulfilled my promise to you to continue to improve our quality of life. For the next two years, I promise to set the bar even higher, not only to maintain progress but accelerate our activities. I will continue to embrace change for the better, and with the help of our Councilmen and staff we will succeed.

Thank you for your faith in me, and the current Town Council, and I look forward to your support going forward.

William G. Wert

184 Glen Abbey

Kiawah Island


Elections for the Town of Kiawah Island will be held on Tuesday, December 7, and residents may place their votes at the Fire Station located on Sora Rail Road between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. All seats are at-large and five candidates are vying for four council seats. Mayor William Wert runs unopposed. Let your voice be heard; vote!

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