Charleston's two mayoral runoff candidates wasted little time sharpening their elbows for a two-week campaign blitz to try to secure victory.
One-term incumbent Mayor John Tecklenburg and 10-year Councilman Mike Seekings will face off in a runoff election Nov. 19, and both started on the offensive Tuesday night as results of the six-way race became clear.
Straying from the cordial approach Tecklenburg embodied in the months leading up to the general election, the mayor pointed to a number of Seekings' shortcomings. On Wednesday, Tecklenburg held a press conference outside his West Ashley home armed with meeting minutes from April 2016 to "set the record straight" on a claim Seekings made Tuesday night.
Tecklenburg said that Seekings, despite claims to The Post and Courier late Tuesday night, was not a candidate who wanted completion of Interstate 526 but instead was one of two "nay" votes at that council meeting.
"I bring this to your attention because, unfortunately, this shows a pattern of the Seekings campaign of being loose with the facts and, in fact, flip-flopping on issues to be politically expedient," Tecklenburg said.
"I've been a tireless advocate for the project ever since I got elected four years ago and stood up when the chips were down," he added.
Seekings maintained his claim, noting that the vote he cast in support of that project was in November 2012 under Mayor Joe Riley's administration. His campaign produced a City Paper article from that time to show that he was not one of the dissenting voters.
Seekings said the "no" vote Tecklenburg is referring to was for a funding resolution he voted against because it would have jeopardized the city's AAA bond rating.
Tecklenburg's campaign said the project wasn't one that would have affected the city's bond rating since it isn't a city project. It's a county project, with some financial support from the state.
Tecklenburg also said Seekings has "flip-flopped" on measures that would have limited overdevelopment in the city, specifically hotels.
Tecklenburg said Seekings voted four times to delay votes or kill ordinances that would have created hotel development restrictions. Tecklenburg said Seekings called a moratorium on development "unnecessary" yet voted in favor of hotel restrictions in the months leading up to the election.
Seekings said he has been supportive of growth in the city by looking at quality of life first. He pointed to what he called Tecklenburg's failed leadership on the rezoning on the Sgt. Jasper apartment development.
"The mayor put on a pledge card in the last race that he would rezone Sgt. Jasper and hold them accountable," Seekings said. "I voted for him when he ran in 2015. He vowed one of his top priorities was to fight that project. He ran on it hard and not once, but twice, voted to allow that project to go forward."
Tecklenburg's campaign said the Sgt. Jasper project was settled before he took office, and that the mayor led the fight to restore the city's Board of Architectural Review's authority over such projects after it was stripped by a judge.
Tecklenburg also urged Seekings to run an honest campaign and denounce the use of dark money.
Seekings responded that he will "run an honest campaign just like we've done the entire time" and that TV viewers can expect to see more commercials during the next two weeks. Seekings said he's never been involved in the dark money and he doesn't want to be.
Tecklenburg said he would maintain his positive approach but that he's not taking any punches either.
"I think it's incumbent upon me to dispel untruths that have been put forth about me and my administration and to contrast what I've been working on versus what's been said about what I've been working on," Tecklenburg said.
Seekings said his campaign will continue to focus on his experience and qualifications "and our belief that there's a need for a change of leadership in the city."
"This campaign going forward is about doing what we can now and having some action," he added.