In the Charleston city election two weeks ago, only 26 percent of registered voters turned out to cast their ballots, despite the importance of the race and the expenditure of a record amount of campaign funds by the candidates.
In Mount Pleasant, the turnout was even less, at 24 percent, despite a heated public debate over council’s controversial efforts to provide growth management in the booming town.
Voters in the municipalities shouldn’t let a fraction of residents determine who will lead their respective councils and decide the course of public policy. Don’t fail to vote in today’s runoff election.
In Charleston, that includes the race between the top two vote-getters in the historic race for mayor — for the first time in 40 years the voters will choose a new one.
Charleston voters should elect John Tecklenburg, who finished first on Nov. 3. He will tackle quality-of-life issues as he works for traffic relief, better tourism management and more affordable housing.
He offers an even-handed approach to leadership and would provide more city resources to West Ashley for transportation and commercial renewal. And he would strive to minimize changes in the historic city that threaten the livability of residents there. For example, he would impose a moratorium on new hotels and special events, supports limiting the scale of a Sergeant Jasper replacement structure, and would reduce the impact of cruise ship operations.
Two Charleston City Council district elections are heading for a run-off as well.
Shawn Pinkston had the highest tally in the election against the incumbent representing District 1, which includes Daniel Island, Cainhoy, and the downtown neighborhoods of Ansonborough and the French Quarter. But write-in votes put the election in a runoff. Voters in District 1 should make sure that Mr. Pinkston wins the runoff election as well.
Mr. Pinkston lives on Daniel Island and works as an attorney in Ansonborough. He is familiar with issues that need the city’s attention in both areas.
On Daniel Island, he is committed to bringing about recreation improvements that he says residents were promised 20 years ago. Those include parks, a community center and a swimming pool, plus improved water access for boaters.
In his district’s downtown neighborhoods, traffic and parking problems related to cruise ships still need to be addressed, he says.
The city should explore moving the cruise ship terminal farther north on the peninsula, and consider a head tax for passengers to mitigate the city’s expense of dealing with cruise ship operations.
An Army veteran of the Iraq war “surge,” Mr. Pinkston would be a forceful advocate for his far-flung district.
In District 3, challenger Jimmy Bailey needs his supporters to turn out so he can overcome a substantial voter deficit in the general election. Mr. Bailey is committed to solving traffic problems, improving the city’s management of growth and working with the school district to improve public education. He says the district needs more affordable housing options on the upper peninsula, and flooding needs to be reduced by the installation of new infrastructure. And the West Ashley area needs more city attention for commercial redevelopment.
District 3 deserves responsive leadership and solid constituent service. The sudden appearance of massive metal electric utility poles in Hampton Park exemplified the need for a more engaged council member for District 3, which includes several upper peninsula neighborhoods and a portion of West Ashley along the Ashley River.
To ease ongoing traffic problems, Mr. Bailey supports new roads where needed, a better public transportation system and improved bicycle access.
Mr. Bailey predicts that council will be taking on greater responsibilities with the election of a new mayor. He would bring new ideas and a vitality to City Council that would serve his district and the city well.
In Mount Pleasant, voters will choose two council members from three candidates in the at-large runoff election. They should support incumbent Chris O’Neal, a CPA whose financial background offers a heightened level of accountability in council’s preparation of the town budget.
Mr. O’Neal supports an ongoing program of road and other infrastructure improvements, and would work to bring economic development, such as small, high-tech businesses, to the town.
Challenger Will Haynie is running on a strong growth-management platform. The former director of the Lowcountry Open Land Trust and The Citadel Foundation recognizes the value of preserving the town’s character at sites like iconic Shem Creek.
Mr. Haynie, who moved to Mount Pleasant in 1966 when he was in kindergarten, would use his “front porch test” on every item before council, asking how it would affect quality of life, drive time or the view from the front porch.
As for growth, he says residents’ needs should be addressed, not just developers’ desires.
And as for our essential system of self-government, low turnout can equal low performance from elected officials.
So even if you don’t agree with our endorsements, get out and vote.