Until now, Matt Johnson had never run for office. Not even student council. So what prompted the local attorney to run for the District 1 City Council seat? “I’m running now because of Bobby Pearse Community Center, and concerns that City Hall’s not addressing that situation. And if they’re not addressing that situation, there’s a lot outside of District One or outside of my neighborhood that’s not getting addressed,” Johnson said. Johnson, his wife GraceAnna and their two children live on West Earle Street.
Changing ordinances will impact affordable housing
“And when we’ve done some things with respect to affordable housing, we’ve put money aside for the Housing Trust bond, we’ve done some great things. My feeling is we can do more. I think there’s still some low-hanging fruit that has yet to be picked.”
- Incentivize developers: “You know, as I’ve talked to builders and developers, their concerns about how the city planning and zoning department operates is that it’s expensive, it’s time consuming, there’s a lot of uncertainty. Well, all of those things add to the cost of housing, they add to the ultimate sale price. And if we can do better on those issues; we can, in theory, bring down the cost to provide more affordable housing stock at all price points.”
- Neighborhood impact: The other thing that our ordinances don’t do, in my opinion, is provide neighbors and neighborhoods certainty that when a new development begins that their historic investment, probably the biggest investment they’ve ever made — their home — how it’s going to be affected by this new development. We can give them more certainty in terms of what can the developers do and how it will they change the character and the nature of that neighborhood.
‘Critical’ to get Unity Park and County Square right
“County Square Redevelopment and Unity Park are massive projects, huge opportunities, but huge opportunities that we have to get right because if we don’t get it right, the downside could be significant. So with respect to Unity Park, with respect to the Greenville County Square Redevelopment, I think more study needs to be done in terms of the long-term effects of those projects…”
City and county must partner
“The reality is the city and the county have to have similar priorities in some respects. We know that with respect to public transportation and affordable housing, the county is going to have to deal with that issue, just like the city’s dealing with that issue. And the best way to do it is to do it together rather than the county dealing with it one way and the city dealing with it a totally different way. We get more bang for our buck if we work together.”
Council must pay attention to neighborhood issues
“In May 2018, when a tree fell on the Bobby Pearse Community Center, there was a gaping hole in the roof. The city threw a tarp over the roof, and the tarp [is] still there today, a year and a half later … Bobby Pearse is near and dear to me. But it’s also a symptom of an issue at at City Hall which is not taking care of the local neighborhoods, parks and local community centers, which are important to those communities.”
Public safety officers should be priority
“Anybody that’s running for City Council should have public safety at the forefront, making sure that we have the fire and police protection that we need is I mean, that’s, that’s an essential component of what the city does for its residents.”
- Implement diversity: “I can’t help but think that if our police officers had more racial diversity, and in addition to that had more training on dealing with diversity, they can do a better job policing our streets. They would make our neighborhoods, you know, the diverse neighborhoods, feel better about the people that are policing their streets.”
- Equip the officers: “To me, we should never have gotten to the point where somebody has to go to eBay to get replacement parts. We should make sure our police have the communication equipment necessary to respond to emergencies, to avoid catastrophes.”
Doing what’s right for residents
“I want to do the right thing for everybody in Greenville, regardless of whether people have disagreements with me or not. I’m not in politics. I haven’t been in politics. I don’t have any allegiances to Columbia or anybody other than the people in District 1. And I feel like in terms of my background, I’m in a position to do what’s right for them without outside influences, which I think is really important when you [have] independent, strong decision makers on City Council.”
To learn more about Matt Johnson, go to https://johnsonforgreenville.com/.