Maurice Washington

Maurice Washington, first vice chair of the Charleston County Republican Party, introduces U.S. Sen. Tim Scott in February 2019. File/Lauren Petracca/Staff

Former Charleston City Councilman Maurice Washington appears poised to join an increasingly crowded field challenging Mayor John Tecklenburg's re-election later this year.

Washington, 58, said Tuesday he still is planning an official announcement soon but set up a campaign account because people wanted to donate to him.

“We are seriously leaning toward running,” he said. “I bring a unique perspective to this race. I believe we’re all shaped by our upbringing and background, and mine is one of not privilege but learning early the importance of leadership and hard work, the importance of education.”

Others who have laid plans to run include current Councilmen Harry Griffin, Mike Seekings and Gary White, as well as newcomers Will Freeman and Sheri Irwin.

The only African American hopeful so far, Washington previously ran for mayor in 1995 and 2015. Four years ago he received 6 percent of the vote.

Washington noted many mayoral candidates are speaking about hotel development, flooding and traffic.

“They’re very important issues, and we plan to have a focus there, as well," he said. "But none up to this point have spoken to the importance of diversity and inclusion, the future of work, wages and the key component that plays a role in what’s affordable and what’s not, and that’s education.”

Filing doesn't open for the city elections until August, but Washington is the seventh candidate to file with the State Ethics Commission, which is required whenever a candidate raises or spends more than $500.

In Washington's case, he reported having raised $4,000 from four donors.

His entry to the race makes a runoff more likely. If no candidate is able to get more than 50 percent of the vote Nov. 5, the top two finishers will face off against each other again on Nov. 19.

Charleston's mayoral race is nonpartisan but Washington has worked closely with the Charleston County Republican Party, where he recently served as the party's first vice chair. He served on City Council, representing the council district in and around Wagener Terrace, from 1991-99.

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Reach Robert Behre at 843-937-5771. Follow him on Twitter @RobertFBehre.

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