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The Honorable Dr. Woolsey

woolsey_at_deskSince 1986, cadets have been studying macroeconomics, money and banking with CSBA Professor Bill Woolsey. Now they have the added benefit of an insider's point of view regarding financial issues facing local governments thanks to Woolsey's new role as mayor of James Island.

Woolsey won 40 percent of the vote out of a field of five candidates in the mayor's race in August. The motto on his website - Keep government small and taxes low - is hardly a unique political position. But his background in economics and reputation for taking action gave him the edge in his campaign.

Charleston's Post & Courier endorsed Woolsey and he received enthusiastic support for his emphasis on fiscal responsibility and transparency.

Since his election, Woolsey has appeared on the front page of the Post and Courier several times. For the town of 22,0000, it is anything but business as usual. Before he was sworn in, Woolsey had difficulty getting to see some of the town's financial records. Since taking office, his difficulties relate to the spending practices of the former mayor.

Not your ordinary politician

Woolsey has made good on his campaign promise of smaller government, reducing his own salary from $35,000 to $15,000. He believes James Island would be better served by a full-time administrator and a part-time mayor.

The energetic professor acknowledges that teaching a full load at The Citadel while serving as mayor will be tough but he is confident that he can fulfill both roles. "I have designated office hours at The Citadel and at James Island and am available by email so my students can reach me just about any time," he said.

No stranger to politics, Woolsey served once on the James Island Town Council and even ran for Congress as a Libertarian in 2000. He's also well-known in campus circles for his service twice as chair of the faculty council.
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Woolsey's website states that political leaders must look beyond what sounds good and carefully weigh the short term and direct effects of a policy against its long term and indirect effects. Just what those effects are is the type of debate that he encourages in his higher level courses.

"Serving as mayor will allow me to bring real world experience into the class," Woolsey said. "We can talk about theory and about application in issues surrounding public finance, budgets and the sources and use of tax revenue. "

Challenging times may lie ahead for James Island and for Woolsey's cadets. But one thing is certain - with Woolsey around, it will not be boring.

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