What the chamber looked at

The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce’s endorsements were based on candidates’:

Commitment to economic development and a skilled workforce.

Knowledge of how the region’s infrastructure affects its growth and quality of life.

Drive to make the Charleston metro area the best place to live and do business.

Understanding of the region’s business climate.

Mount Pleasant Town Councilwoman Linda Page will win Mount Pleasant’s Nov. 5 mayoral race if the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce has its way.

Page was one of six candidates endorsed Monday by the business group, which provided questionnaires and interviews to most candidates in the upcoming Charleston and Mount Pleasant elections.

The chamber has about 1,700 members across the Lowcountry, and its member businesses employ about 80,000 people.

It remains to be seen how much its endorsements will matter when voters go to the polls in two weeks.

This is the first year the chamber has endorsed candidates in municipal races. Its Political Action Committee formed in 2000 and previously limited its endorsements largely to Charleston County School Board races. Its recommended candidates there have a 66 percent success rate.

The others to get the chamber’s nod were Charleston City Councilman Mike Seekings and Mount Pleasant Town Council candidates Ben Bryson, Elton Carrier, Paul Gawrych and Timm Gipe.

Seekings was the only candidate in Charleston’s four contested City Council races to get the chamber’s nod. The others either didn’t complete the screening process or were not deemed to have a sufficient understanding of the chamber’s goals, Chamber President and CEO Bryan Derreberry said.

“We’re going to be really judicious,” he said.

Those receiving the chamber’s nod seemed appreciative. All five from Mount Pleasant joined chamber officials for a brief afternoon press event.

Page called it an honor, saying the chamber seems most interested in the area’s infrastructure needs, its skilled workforce and affordable housing.

“Obviously, it’s tied to the business world,” Gawrych said. “Most of those folks are already engaged and thinking about the election.”

Most political candidates in the Lowcountry portray themselves as pro-business, but the chamber’s endorsements give added weight to that claim. Chamber Chairman Stuart Whiteside said while Page was selected, mayoral candidate Ken Glasson also stood out. “Both have been advocates for the business community,” he said.

Next year the chamber plans to expand its political footprint by interviewing and endorsing candidates seeking statewide office, chamber senior vice president Mary Graham said.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.