SUMMERVILLE — Delayed slightly from the effects of Hurricane Dorian, town filings for the Nov. 5 general election were finalized Monday — with some candidates jumping in races at the last minute.
Most notable is the now-four-man race to succeed Mayor Wiley Johnson, who opted against seeking re-election after a single term.
Former town Fire Chief Ricky Waring, current Dorchester County Councilman Bill Hearn, and local artist and musician Fleming Moore all filed months ago to succeed Johnson.
But Brandon King, a 28-year-old real estate agent, submitted his paperwork at 11 a.m. Wednesday, just as Dorian's winds and rain were moving into the Lowcountry.
King said he did not have time for an interview Monday but decided to join the crowded race for three reasons, according to his candidate Facebook page.
He listed persuading Town Council to adopt an adequate Public Facilities Ordinance to address infrastructure, getting residents as much tax relief as possible, and protecting the environment by addressing how Summerville approaches flooding.
"It’s important that we continue to have the conversation on man’s effect on their environment locally and how disrupting animal's ecosystems and habitats will affect Summerville," King wrote.
The fields are set for two of the Lowcountry's highest profile local elections: the mayoral races in Charleston and North Charleston. And both are crowded this year, with six candidates in Charleston and five in North Charleston.
"Flooding has been a result of a lack of storm water mitigation in some areas, and swampland building in other areas," he said. "Getting serious about the environment and being good stewards of the land God gave us has to be a day 1 priority."
The race is on pace to triple the money spent in the 2015 mayoral election between Johnson and then-Mayor Bill Collins. As of the most recent filing deadline in July, the three candidates have already raised more than $145,500 — lapping the $60,000 total from the last election.
Hearn and Waring have raised nearly the entirety of that money, with Moore reporting only $200 that he donated to his campaign. King has not filed statements of financial interest yet, but will do so with the final deadline before the election in October.
How to deal with the town's burgeoning growth will be at the forefront of the campaign to be the next mayor.
Once a town of around 3,000 residents for nearly a century, Summerville’s population reached 28,000 in 2000 and now is home to more than 50,000 residents. It was named a top-60 fastest-growing city in the nation in 2017. This, naturally, creates a number of issues — namely in traffic concerns.
"Managing growth and traffic are still big issues and trying to unite the Town Council. I don’t think that’ll be a problem, that’ll probably be the easiest thing we do," Waring said Monday. "It’ll take all seven of us to do that."
Waring said he expected someone else to jump in the mayor's race, but hadn't met King until the two spoke at a luncheon Monday. Regardless, he said his campaign is still going well.
"We're working like the devil every day," he said.
Hearn and Moore did not respond to messages and could not be immediately reached for comment Monday.
Summerville Mayor Wiley Johnson says he won’t seek a second term this year, and that has all of Flowertown talking.
Johnson told The Post and Courier he had "absolutely no plans" to endorse any of the four mayoral candidates.
"There are reasons (why), but I think it’s important that I stay somewhat neutral," he said. "It fits in with the strategy that the people of Summerville are going to have to make an independent decision."
Town Council races
Three of the town's six council seats are up for reelection, but only two seats will see a contested election.
District 2 incumbent Christine Czarnick, who ran alongside Johnson in 2015, will face former council member Terry Jenkins. Jenkins held the seat from 1992 to 1999 and was elected again in 2011. In 2016 he lost reelection to Czarnik by a handful of votes.
Bill McIntosh, who represents District 4, will be challenged by Glenn Zingarino.
Town Council is not Zingarino's first foray into South Carolina politics. He also ran in the 2018 Republican primary for the Statehouse District 94 seat — previously held by Katie Arrington, who narrowly lost the race for South Carolina's 1st Congressional District seat to Democrat Joe Cunningham — but garnered only 225 votes.
Bob Jackson, who represents District 6, will run unopposed for his seat.
Incumbent George Tupper is also unopposed in his run for Public Works Commissioner.
The deadline to register to vote in the November election is Oct. 5.