Thomas Dixon

Thomas Dixon

Thomas Dixon, a self-described social justice advocate and former U.S. Senate challenger, plans to announce he will run for mayor of North Charleston in 2019.

Dixon sent out an email saying his formal announcement will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday at North Charleston City Hall.

While few political challengers formally announce more than two years before Election Day, Dixon said Monday he already has decided to run so it made sense to let others know.

"There are no restrictions on how early out (challengers can announce)," he said. "I know I'm going to be running in 2019 so I saw no reason to delay the announcement that I'm beginning my campaign. I've got a lot of work to do."

Current Mayor Keith Summey, who first was elected in 1994, said Monday he plans to seek re-election in 2019 for what might be his final term.

Summey, 70, noted North Charleston will mark its 50th anniversary as a city in 2022, and he would like to see that observance through, along with other pending capital projects, such as a new coliseum parking deck.

While filing for the North Charleston mayor race won't begin until the summer of 2019, Dixon is not expected to be the sole challenger. Summey said former 2015 mayoral candidate John Singletary also has indicated he may run again.

"It's to be expected," Summey said of his challengers.

Last fall, Dixon ran as a Democrat against incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Tim Scott and lost by a 61-37 margin.

Dixon said Monday he will run a clean campaign and will elaborate more on his reasons for running at his Thursday announcement but added "when it comes to our current mayor, after 23 years in office and the issues are getting worse, maybe it's time for a new look at it."

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