Next year's race for mayor of Charleston is shaping up to be the competitive fight that's been expected as former City Council member Paul Tinkler confirmed Tuesday that he is joining the field.

Tinkler, 61, a downtown attorney, represented West Ashley sections of the city on council from 1998-2007. He lives in the Sandhurst area, near the North Bridge.

While his official announcement won't come until next month, word that Tinkler was formulating a bid leaked out after he filed documents with the State Ethics Commission last week showing that he had raised $8,500 for the November 2015 mayor's race.

State law requires candidates to file a financial declaration after raising their first $500 for political office.

"Just given the largeness of the task, I do think that getting started early is important," he said.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is retiring next year following four decades in office.

"I think what Joe Riley has done with the city is phenomenal," Tinkler added. "It's the best city in the country, if not the world, and I intend on building on the best."

Tinkler's candidacy immediately seems to compete with former city hall official John Tecklenburg, who was first to enter the mayor's race earlier this year. Both men have deep roots in local Democratic Party circles, though the city's mayoral election is officially non-partisan at the ballot box.

Tinkler said a top issue facing the city would be the economic development of West Ashley and James Island "and at the same time, management of the successes of downtown."

Tinkler is married and has two adult children.

Expectations are that the 2015 mayor's race could be a crowded one. In addition to Tecklenburg and Tinkler, among those said to be either running or mulling bids are City Councilman Aubry Alexander; Charleston County Councilwoman Colleen Condon; restaurant developer Dick Elliott; state Rep. Wendell Gilliard, City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie; contractor Marc Knapp; state Rep. Chip Limehouse; City Councilman Dean Riegel; City Councilman Mike Seekings; and state Rep. Leon Stavrinakis.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.