(Denmark, SC) – Today, Denmark Resident Deanna Miller-Berry – National Healthcare Advocate, National Environmental Activist, Author of “The Vindicated Liar” and founder of several nonprofit organizations- announced her candidacy for Mayor of Denmark, SC. Miller – Berry, a native of Ridgeville SC (Dorchester County), moved to Denmark seven years ago with her husband and five children. Personally witnessing the education, healthcare, & resource disparities that exist not just in the city, but the entire County, she commited her adult life to fighting for underserved individuals in her community and surrounding communities through various community involvement initiatives.
Miller-Berry has an expansive history in public advocacy through non-profit work and elected roles. Before becoming known as the “Fighting Mom”, she began her career as a US Army soldier at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri before being injured and honorably discharged. She quickly began focusing on equitable education, a healthcare champion advocating for children with life threatening illnesses (airway disease) get approvals for life saving surgeries / treatments, serving on various committees including the Bamberg Chamber of Commerce, the Clemson Emerging Scholars Advisory Board, School Improvement Council Vice Chairwoman for Denmark Olar High School, among many other mentoring and community outreach efforts. Inspired by obstacles faced with her daughter, Berry started the Saving Shannie Foundation which provides verbal and nonverbal students with special needs with complimentary tablets to help them more effectively communicate with those around them. TSSF adopted special education departments at SC underserved school districts, including Bamberg School District #2 providing 52 voice / tablet packages to the entire special needs department. Her most recent experience as an elected official began in March 2020, when she was elected Chairman of the Bamberg County Black Caucus.
“I am in this run to give power back to the people and remind the public that there are elected officials who are here to serve their constituents and not themselves. In recent years, people have grown dissuaded and skeptical of the government – as evidenced by decreased voter turnout. I want to increase that faith, restore hope starting at a local level by working with my community to make sure that their voices are heard, reassurance they have a leader who is not only listening but acting to amplify issues, rebuilding our City as a collective with the people is an attribute Elected officials should make #1 priority. After all, we work for the People, not the other way around.” Berry said.
One of the top issues at the time was the Water challenges the city has been battling for decades. Over 10 years, a chemical called HaloSan – normally used in pools and spas is not approved for human consumption by the EPA – was added to the drinking water in Denmark without the public knowledge. Since this time, many residents blamed lack of access to safe clean drinking water, affordability of the water, and for many adverse effects to residents that are still being experienced to this day. This led Miller-Berry to found Denmark Citizens for Safe Water & National Water for Humanity – a nonprofit organization that helped provide clean drinking water to hundreds of families through continuing water distributions, provisions of residential drinking fountains, related initiatives and events to not just the city she loves, but to other cities throughout the Country. She traveled across the Country to forge partnerships with the Nations’ top Environmental Justice Activists to fight on a National level for safe, clean, affordable water for all.
It was this relentless activism that caught the eye of billionaire philanthropist and 2020 presidential candidate Tom Steyer, who referenced Miller-Berry and her efforts during the pivotal “First in the South” Democratic Debate.
“You know, I am friends with a young woman named Deanna Miller-Berry from Denmark, SC who is fighting for clean water and environmental justice in her community,” Steyer said, as he continued on to elaborate upon healthcare deserts such as Bamberg County that exist across the nation.
This is not Miller-Berry’s first foray into garnering National media coverage or her first lap in the mayoral race. In 2017, she ran with the same intent to help her community, but with far less resources at her disposal. She explained that it was her friendship with Tom Steyer helped her gain the confidence and resources needed to run again.
“Tom is a very successful businessman raised in New York that came to the most rural communities in South Carolina, fell in love with our people, and became disgusted with the problems that plague rural America. When he ran for President and I worked on his campaign, I began to see the “real Tom!” His passion for helping those who could not help themselves matched mine and enlivened in me the notion to take a leap of faith and run for Mayor again so that I can be in a better position to help my fellow Denmarkians. If we can get people like him to become informed and passionate about the issues we are facing, we can make real changes in our City & State and leave Denmark better for the generations that are to come,” Miller-Berry explained.
Although voting for the mayoral race does not take place until Feb 9, 2021, mayoral candidates are eager to address the issues that have historically plagued Denmark. As the race continues, Miller-Berry plans to continue her efforts to help the community in which she lives and hopes to serve.
“I am a disabled veteran; and serving my country was something I took very seriously when I took that oath twenty-three years ago. Just because I am no longer an active member of the Army, does not mean I can’t serve my country in a civilian capacity. The way I choose to serve my country now is by serving my local community. The work I do in Denmark is a reflection of how I still hold true to the oath to: serve, protect & defend the city of Denmark and her people. My campaign is initiative based and goal-driven.” Miller-Berry explained.