Henry Fishburne exits Charleston mayor’s race

Henry Fishburne

The Charleston’s mayoral race might not be as crowded as some previously predicted, as a second candidate, former Charleston City Councilman Henry Fishburne, announced Wednesday morning that he will withdraw.

Fishburne released a statement saying he was both humbled and encouraged by friends and family but was unable to devote the necessary time and energy to win.

“I decided to run for mayor because I love this city and have spent my life here. I felt that this was my opportunity to give back to the community that has done so much for me and my family,” he said. “I plan to continue being active in the community and I am also particularly interested in helping to cultivate new young leadership within our city.”

Earlier this month, Dick Elliott also withdrew from the race, citing the difficulty of balancing a mayoral campaign with his obligations as head of the Maverick Southern Kitchens restaurant group, which employs 260 workers across the state.

Fishburne said he plans to continue his community involvement in other capacities, such as his role on the Charleston County Aviation Authority board.

Filing for the seat doesn’t begin until August, but several candidates already have stepped forward, including Charleston businessman John Tecklenburg, former Councilman Paul Tinkler, state Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, and City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie. Both state Rep. Wendell Gilliard and Ginny Deerin, who ran Mayor Joe Riley’s last re-election campaign, also have said they may run, as has City Councilman Mike Seekings.

Fishburne did not throw his support to any other candidate.

“I have tremendous respect for each one of the other candidates in this race and I know they all care a great deal about Charleston. I wish them nothing but the best in their campaigns,” he said.“As our city prepares for a change in leadership, it is important that we elect dedicated and thoughtful individuals, not just for the position of mayor but city council seats as well.”

Fishburne was the only candidate in the nonpartisan race with a Republican background.

Mayor Joe Riley is not seeking re-election for the office he has held since 1975. The election to replace him will be Nov. 3, with a Nov. 17 runoff likely.

The first forum among all the current candidates is expected to be held at 3:30 p.m. March 8 at the Jewish Community Center at 1645 Raoul Wallenberg Blvd.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.