Hundreds attend Charleston mayoral forum downtown

CHARLESTON, SC – Earlier tonight a forum was held for the Charleston mayoral candidates hoping to replace Joe Riley after he steps down at the end of the year.

Charleston mayoral candidates Ginny Deerin, William Dudley Gregorie, Leon Stavrinakis, Maurice Washington, John Tecklenburg, and Toby Smith all attended the forum.

Members of the community learned each of the candidates’ plans for managing the unprecedented growth Charleston is experiencing and what they hope to do if elected.

Hundreds of people filled the Charleston Music Hall Wednesday night to hear how Mayor Joe Riley’s replacement will work to improve the city.

One attendee told News 2, “We got a little hint of the gloves coming off!”

Todd Lambert lives in Charleston and says he wanted to see hear the candidates explain how they plan to manage the masses who keep moving to the Lowcountry. “Before you go up there and punch your vote, you should know what you’re voting for,” said Lambert. “There are people moving here like crazy. I moved here in 2010 and it has grown a lot since then. I see a lot of construction and I see a lot more coming down the pipeline.”

Growth management and preservation; candidates explained how they’d balance the two.

Kristopher King of the Preservation Society of Charleston was one of the forum sponsors and said, “The core focus for tonight was quality of life and quality of place…Our idea was to have a really open public conversation, so we really felt like having it at the Charleston Music Hall; having it be free of charge. We also worked with the City Paper for a number of weeks having questions leading up to it, so the idea was to have a more inclusive conversation.”

One of the strongest reactions of the night came when candidate Maurice Washington was asked what is one key project he would delay as mayor. Washington said he would re-allocate the $75 million dollars for the African American Museum and use it as an investment for the business community and schools. Washington said he recognizes the museum would be an important piece of history for the city, but he believes the money could be spent elsewhere.

Forum attendee, Linda Austin, said, “When Maurice Washington was talking about, do we invest in the African American Museum or do we put that into livability issues, education, schools etc. I thought that was a very thought-provoking question and controversial.”

Almost all candidates agreed improving Charleston County schools must be a top priority.

The moderators and the candidates encouraged everyone to get out and vote. If you haven’t, you only have until Sunday October 4th to register if you want to vote in this November’s general election.

For more information on where and how to register to vote, click here.

For more responses to tonight’s questions and debates, check out some of News 2 reporter Matt Alba’s tweets here.

 

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