Tecklenburg and Seekings mayor

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and Councilman Mike Seekings are the two candidates in the 2019 mayoral runoff election. File

Different sections of Charleston favored different mayoral candidates on Nov. 5, though both Mayor John Tecklenburg and City Councilman Mike Seekings found pockets of support across the city.

On Nov. 5, one-term incumbent Tecklenburg secured about 47.8 percent of votes and Seekings secured about 34.3 percent, forcing a runoff election because no one topped the 50-percent mark as required by city law. 

The Post and Courier mapped out the results geographically, providing a glimpse into where the candidates found most of their support.

Seekings, who lives downtown near the College of Charleston, had his strongest showing, not surprisingly, from the City Council district he's represented the last 10 years: the area south of Calhoun Street and west of King Street. He received more than 58 percent in this area (1,605 of 2,735 votes).

Seekings also drew significantly more support from some of the city's flood-prone areas, such as the medical district (also in or near his council district), north of Huger Street, and parts of James and Johns islands.

Tecklenburg, who lives in West Ashley, saw his supporters come out in force in West Ashley, where he received more than half of the votes (6,360 of 12,034). His 2015 campaign message was focused on revitalizing the West Ashley area, which represents the largest bloc of city voters.

But Tecklenburg also drew wide support in other areas of the city, including Daniel Island and the southern part of James Island.

Gibbs Knotts, a professor in the College of Charleston's Political Science Department, said last week's turnout reflects some signature "friends and neighbor" results, with both Tecklenburg and Seekings seeing strong support around their homes and in areas where they frequently interact with residents. 

"I think one of the things that's interesting, too, is how well Tecklenburg did in West Ashley, which has always felt like the neglected area," Knotts said. 

Knotts said that as Charleston's population drifts out to West Ashley and Daniel Island, politicians will have to be cognizant of the needs in those areas. 

Knotts noted, too, that Seekings did well in areas that are significantly impacted by flooding, suggesting that voters there may feel the city needs to do more to address flooding.

While Tecklenburg ran four years ago on revitalizing West Ashley, he cited flooding as the city's No. 1 issue in early 2018, after three straight years of heavy rains and storms damaging select neighborhoods in all parts of the city. 

"It's almost like support for Seekings goes up as the elevation above sea level goes down," Knotts said. "We're all in the Lowcountry, but the Lowcoutry isn't all the same. ... Not to take away from the Dutch Dialogues, but it's been a series of storms and the most recent years was a little bit of a reprieve. It was a really rough stretch during Tecklenburg's earlier time in office."

Looking ahead, Knotts said both mayoral campaigns should look at the areas where their candidates performed the best and push for support there Tuesday.

"It's hard to change minds and change voters' opinions in two weeks, and there is likely going to be far less turnout than the first time, so they'll want to make sure people who support them, and the areas who support them, continue to show up," Knotts said. 

In 2015, it was a slightly different story. In his runoff election against challenger Leon Stavrinakis, Tecklenburg secured most downtown Charleston and Daniel Island precincts by healthy margins, as well as 13 of James Island's 20 precincts.

But Stavrinakis has represented the West Ashley area on County Council and in the Statehouse for years, and Tecklenburg lost in West Ashley's St. Andrews precincts four years ago.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday in the runoff election. Voters in City Council District 3, which includes part of downtown Charleston and part of West Ashley, also will decide a runoff between incumbent James Lewis and challenger Jason Sakran.

There’s time for people to request absentee ballots. In-person absentee voting may be done during regular business hours at the Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration’s office at 4367 Headquarters Road in North Charleston. Those who would like a ballot sent by mail may call 843-744-8683. All ballots must be returned by 7 p.m. Nov. 19.

All city of Charleston residents who registered to vote before Oct. 5 may vote in the mayoral runoff, even if they didn’t vote in the original contest. Only registered voters in District 3 may vote in that race.

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Reach Mikaela Porter at 843-937-5906. Follow her on Twitter @mikaelaporterPC. 

Mikaela Porter joined The Post and Courier in April 2019 and writes about the city of Charleston. Previously, Mikaela reported on breaking news, local government, school issues and community happenings for The Hartford Courant in Hartford, Conn.