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Charleston Mayor Tecklenburg talks rising tides as he, City Council members are sworn in

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Mayor John Tecklenburg speaks during an inauguration ceremony outside City Hall on Monday, January 13, 2020. Lauren Petracca/Staff

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg called for an all-in approach to address flooding, traffic, affordable housing and public safety at his administration's second inaugural Monday. 

Tecklenburg suggested residents plant a rain garden, think of riding a bike or carpooling to work, or make a donation to a nonprofit that works on affordable housing projects. 

"Over the last four years, we Charlestonians have seen the stark reality of climate change with our own eyes," Tecklenburg said.

"The water in Charleston Harbor is rising," he added. "King tides are higher and more frequent. Rain bombs bring traffic to a standstill almost without warning. And hurricanes have seemingly become an annual occurrence."

In the last four years, the city created its first Stormwater Department, first comprehensive flooding plan, invested more than $100 million in infrastructure, installed check valves and "accelerated maintenance schedules," Tecklenburg said.

New regulations to stop "irresponsible" development in the Church Creek basin area are expected to be rolled out citywide, he told the 200 people who gathered in front of City Hall at midday.

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The Magnolia Singers perform during an inauguration ceremony for Mayor John Tecklenburg and six City Council members outside City Hall on Monday, January 13, 2020. Lauren Petracca/Staff

In the next four years, Tecklenburg said the city must ask state leaders to expand Home Rule so that city government can collect fees on the nearly 8 million annual visitors and use that money to fund flooding fixes. 

For example, city leaders sought a head tax on cruise ship passengers last year but a bill before the state Legislature didn't move. The state owns the ports and the city is barred from taxing ships that dock there. 

On his promise four years ago to better manage traffic, Tecklenburg said the city secured land to build a southern and northern pitchfork on Johns Island, and that federal funding will be used to build a bike and pedestrian bridge connecting downtown to West Ashley.

On affordable housing, Tecklenburg said the city created a $40 million affordable housing construction fund. On public safety, he said the city and Police Department embraced the research and findings of a racial bias audit. 

He noted that the upcoming year is the city's 350th, which will include festivals, seminars and reenactments to tell the city's story of "early promise of liberty and opportunity to the moral abomination of slavery and Jim Crow."

City Council members Marie Delcioppo, Jason Sakran, Karl Brady, incumbent Keith Waring, incumbent Peter Shahid and Ross Appel were also sworn into office. 

The first City Council meeting of the year is Tuesday night. Tecklenburg is expected to give a State of the City address Jan. 28. 

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

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