- For the first time in 16 years, Mayor Michael Heitzler faces a challenge for his seat.

City Councilman Jerry Tekac, 48, who is in his second term, is running against Heitzler, who has been mayor since 1978.

Filing for the April 8 nonpartisan election closed Friday.

"It's good to give the residents a choice," said Tekac, a senior commercial banker at NBSC.

Heitzler agreed.

In 2006 and 2010, the city called off its election because the candidates faced no opposition, in accordance with a Municipal Election Commission ruling.

"I never liked that," said Heitzler, 66, a retired educator. "I think there should be an election. Even if you only have the number of candidates for the allowable seats, you still have the right to have a write-in candidate."

The last time Heitzler had a challenger was 1998, when former Councilman Sal Gandolfo ran against him. Gandolfo served on the council for 16 years before being defeated in 2010.

Tekac said he has been planning his campaign since August.

"I believe we're missing the boat on economic development in our city," he said. "Goose Creek is no longer a bedroom community. We can't continue to provide the services we provide our residents by just building houses."

Heitzler said he considers two of his biggest accomplishments writing the city's policies and "hiring the right people." That led to Bloomberg Businessweek naming Goose Creek a "Best Place to Raise Kids in South Carolina," he said.

"After we had all the policies and the right people, then we were able to install infrastructure to grow upon," he said. "I believe that I have never had an original idea, and I have never done anything by myself. It's all been borrowing and putting together the best and brightest ideas of the people around me."

In addition to the mayoral election, five people are running for three at-large council seats. Incumbents Mark Phillips and Mayor Pro Tem Kimo Esarey face newcomers Gerald Stinson, Victoria Morrell and Debra Green-Fletcher. Marguerite Brown, who has served on the council since 1980, is not seeking re-election.

Heitzler said he, Esarey, Phillips and Green-Fletcher are running together as a ticket.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.