MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach native Jackie Vereen grew up in her family-owned oceanfront hotel, the Sea Dip. She still owns and operates it on 26th Avenue North to this day.
Before that, she attended Coastal Academy and graduated from the University of South Carolina. Vereen said she's been an active member since 1994, and past president, of the Myrtle Beach Woman's Club. She currently serves on the city's Community Appearance Board and is a graduate of Leadership Grand Strand, class XVII.
Vereen, who is also a member of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, believes her experience would make her a great choice for Myrtle Beach City Council.
"I love Myrtle Beach. I've lived here all my life, my family's here. This city's been great to me and my family," Vereen said. "I have a passion for this area and I have the experience that not all the other candidates can say. I've sat on boards with the city. Currently I'm on the community appearance board and so I think I bring experience to the table that not everybody else has, and that's one reason why I'm running."
Vereen on redevelopment:
WMBF News met the candidate at the city's newest oceanfront restaurant addition, Riptydz. Vereen believes development like that restaurant is a step in the right direction for the city.
She said redevelopment is especially important downtown and in the south end. The right plan is to speak with business owners and locals to develop and improve properties already there, while bringing in new business.
Vereen wants new developments to fill in downtown's "gaps." She is in favor of a new library and children's museum, but doesn't want it built in the Superblock.
"We need to think outside of the box. I was reading the Wall Street Journal this morning, and they were talking about all of the malls. Nobody goes to the mall anymore. So they've got to take that piece of property and think out the box for a different purpose. And that's what we need to do with downtown Myrtle Beach. We need to think outside the box, re-purpose it, repackage it and brand it, and bring, you know, not only for our citizens but for our visitors to come downtown with their families, date night, significant others, and just enjoy it like it used to be," she said.
- Maintain low taxes and fees through fiscal discipline
- Restore public trust in our local government by always being proactive versus reactive
- Continue to work with federal government by always being proactive versus reactive
- Attract more high-paying jobs to Myrtle Beach to keep more young people in the area
- Develop a cohesive long-range plan for the entire Superblock area with active involvement of the individual property owners
- Maintain a consistent vigil regarding water quality issues
Vereen on public safety:
Vereen's public safety agenda includes hiring more officers, increasing salary and benefits packages, and improving retention rates.
She said she wants to add more police substations across the city, in addition to the substation recently placed by the Myrtle Beach Police Department. Vereen thinks more substations may spur business in areas labeled as unsafe at night.
Vereen said she understands it's difficult to be a police officer, but thinks Myrtle Beach can also look to other cities on how to tackle an ever-changing population.
"Well, of course, everybody knows we need to hire more officers. We also need to come up with enough money to not only attract new officers, we need to have competitive wages, competitive benefit packages, but we also need to retain our good men and women that are already on the force," she said. "I know too many people that work two jobs just to make ends meet ... and that's not ... People that put their lives on the line, that's not what they should have to do. They should be able to go home and focus on their family, away from their job, and we need to give them the money that they need to do that."
- Add police substations across the city
- Reduce crime to provide safer and more secure streets and neighborhoods
- Provide more boots on the ground and equipment needed for our first responders
- Increase wages, benefits packages
For Vereen's full answers to the questions, watch the clips above.
This is the eighth of WMBF News' profiles of Myrtle Beach City Council candidates. The series began Oct. 16, and will run nine days, with the last candidate being profiled Oct. 26. WMBF News will will ask the same three questions to each. Those questions are about re-development, public safety and why he or she should be chosen for city council.
Here are the air dates for each candidate:
- Oct. 16: Ann Dunham
- Oct. 17: Matthew Hardee
- Oct. 18 Mike Hobeika
- Oct. 19 Mike Lowder (incumbent)
- Oct. 20 Brooks Myers
- Oct. 23 Gregg Smith
- Oct 24 Randal Wallace (incumbent)
- Oct 25 Jackie Vereen
- Oct 26 Keith VanWinkle