Voters in Charleston and North Charleston will choose a mayor Tuesday, the first time in history that their municipal races have occurred on the same day.

Several other Lowcountry municipalities also will hold contests Tuesday to fill council seats and decide other questions.

While these elections often receive less media attention than presidential, senate and congressional races, the winners often have more direct influence on voters' day-to-day lives.

The most heated and expensive contest by far has been the five-way Charleston mayoral race, which will determine who becomes the chief lawmaker and administrator in the Lowcountry's largest city.

Incumbent Mayor Joe Riley is seeking a 10th four-year term against four challengers -- City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie, author David Farrow, teacher Craig Jelks and restaurant manager Joshua Kennedy.

In North Charleston, Mayor Keith Summey faces a challenge from Charleston County School Board member Chris Collins. Summey has served since 1994.

North Charleston moved its elections to the fall as part of a larger effort to synchronize its elections with those of other municipalities in hopes of increasing turnout.

Mount Pleasant, Awendaw, the Isle of Palms, Folly Beach, Lincolnville, Ridgeville and Moncks Corner also have contested council races on the ballot Tuesday. The town of Rockville is holding an election where three candidates are seeking four seats.

The weather looks as if it will do its part not to dampen turnout, as forecasts call for sunny skies and mild weather.

Charleston and North Charleston also have several city council races in freshly redrawn single-member districts.

Charleston's mayoral race heated up in recent weeks as a new political committee flooded the mailboxes with pro-Gregorie literature, while Riley backers blasted the work as that of an anonymous cabal.

Charleston's winning mayoral candidate must get more than 50 percent of the vote, or city voters will return to the polls Nov. 22 to pick among the top two vote getters.

The prospect of a Nov. 22 runoffs also looms as likely in some of the contested Charleston City Council races, particularly in the five-way race in District 3.

Most polling places for Tuesday's elections are the same as those used in last fall's general election -- except in downtown Charleston, where construction work on four public schools has forced the city and county to find new sites.