Since her election in 2008, Bluffton mayor Lisa Sulka has been at the helm of a town that has blossomed into the heart of the Lowcountry. We chatted with her about her tenure and what makes Bluffton special to her.
Q: When you think back to when you ran for mayor in 2008, could you have imagined how long and productive your tenure would be?
A: It was such a blur. I love being part of helping people, but I was very unaware of what was going on right in front of us. I’ll admit it — if there’s one regret I’ve had, it’s not being aware of everything these development agreements entailed. I questioned whether I was ready because I was not (outgoing mayor) Hank (Johnston). I could not see 10 seconds in front of me, so how could I see 10 years in front of me?
Q: How has the way you approach the job changed over the years?
A: I think I listen better today. I have totally learned to think before I say yes or no, because on Town Council and as a mom and a Realtor and a service-oriented person, all you want to do is please. I think my love language is pleasing and serving, and I would try very hard to help everybody. But I’ve learned to be calmer, and I’ve learned to say no all over my world and manage expectations a lot better than I did. And I think ahead and try to be more proactive than reactive.
Q: What are your proudest accomplishments as mayor?
A: Annexing Buck Island and Simmonsville was really important to me. That was part of my platform. I am thrilled that we have a historic district, and that was part of that Old Town master plan that I think made Bluffton so special. And the parks. I’m so proud of our parks; I think that builds community.
Q: What makes Bluffton so special to you?
A: The people who move here for the right reasons, who think about this town, like Annelore Harrell. If you love Bluffton like the Reeveses and the Harrells and the Pinckneys, then you’re in. I love still walking down Calhoun Street and talking to Babbie Guscio. The river. The town. People that smile and say nice things.
Q: What do you enjoy in your free time?
A: I love sitting on my porch. If I can stay home one day a week and watch Hoda and Jenna and drink coffee until 10 o’clock with my dog, that’s my happy place. And Emmett McCracken lets us keep our kayak on his little beach by his house, so I get out and kayak for exercise.