As Bluffton’s Mayor, I am proud of our town and the people who work so diligently to create a place of which many want to be a part.

We are well aware development will come, and town leaders continually strive to partner with these projects and direct them in the best ways to protect our natural resources and lifestyle.

Each year town council, together with our residents, evaluates our long-term vision and annual strategic plan to ensure our projects and policies reflect our values.

I have a long-term vision for the town and it is supported by the entire council.

Many ask, “How will we keep our small town charm?” We keep our values in the forefront of every decision. The town has a covenant that guides us in our quest for balance. I read it before every town council meeting.

This is the first part of this agreement between our residents:

As citizens of Bluffton, South Carolina, we hold the following to be true:

That social, cultural and economic diversity and inclusiveness are the essence of our community;

That we bear responsibility for the stewardship of nature’s blessings entrusted to us in Bluffton and along the May River;

That freedom and civic duty work hand-in-hand to create a culture of individuality and a sense of community;

That our natural, physical and cultural history are worthy of our protection as trustees in order for us to embrace our future.

I am very proud to be the leader in support of these endeavors:

Economic development: Developers Blanchard and Calhoun will build out Buckwalter Place. Its plans include an 113,000-square-foot Kroger Marketplace, multi-family residential units, parks and open space. Along with this, we ensured a +/- 3,200-square-foot space to be deeded to the town for a permanent home of the Don Ryan Center for Innovation. Our Bluffton Public Development Corporation was instrumental in this agreement.

The Don Ryan Center has graduated 19 companies and added 77 employees and more than $4 million to the region’s annual payroll. The Center is also working with the Beaufort County School District to nurture the innovative spirit.

Strong financial position: The new consolidated budget is $3.5 million more versus last year’s consolidated budget with no new tax increase. The additional revenue is generated through growth in the property tax base and construction permits due to Bluffton’s robust economy.

Park improvements: Renovations were recently completed at DuBois Park and Tom Herbkersman Commons. The May River Streetscape project will add more walkability to Old Town. Oyster Factory Park improvements are also scheduled with a courtesy dock for boaters. The town has provided Wi-Fi at the following parks: Oscar Frazier, Oyster Factory and DuBois Parks.

Natural resources protection: Town staff is also implementing projects aimed at improving water quality in the May River. One project, located in the Pine Ridge neighborhood, will collect stormwater in ponds and use that water for irrigation. In addition, the town continues to bring sewer to neighborhoods that use septic tanks.

I am so proud to call Bluffton home, and also of being your mayor. I am accessible and always eager to talk to constituents about how we can make Bluffton a better place.

Lisa Sulka is the two-term Mayor of Bluffton and incumbent in the Nov. 3 mayoral election. lsulka@townof bluffton.com