Gregorie seeks city's top job

William Dudley Gregorie

In a video posted Monday on YouTube, Charleston City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie announced he will run for mayor this year, in what would be his second attempt to unseat Mayor Joe Riley.

"I'm running for mayor of the city of Charleston because it's time for a change," Gregorie said in the 70-second spot on the website.

"Thirty-five years is just too long for one mayor," Gregorie continued. "As a result, our city lacks energy and fresh ideas for our future."

The video and a campaign website went live Monday without any notice from Gregorie that he had decided to run. In a brief phone conversation that evening, he said a formal announcement would be forthcoming.

In the 2007 mayoral race, Gregorie captured 29 percent of the vote and Riley won re-election with 64 percent.

"Things are a little different than they were then," Gregorie said Monday night. "The country is different, the economy is different, and I think it's even more important now that I run for mayor."

The remainder of the vote in the 2007 mayoral race went to frequent political candidate and city government critic Marc K. Knapp, and city police officer Omar Brown.

Two years later, Gregorie narrowly won his current seat on City Council representing District 6, after former Councilman Wendell Gilliard left the office for a seat in the Legislature.

Gregorie, 62, is the former director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Columbia office.

Riley, 68, announced in December that he would seek re-election to a 10th term but officially kicked off his campaign Monday with a series of events around Charleston. He said Gregorie's candidacy would not change his campaign plans.

"I respect his, or anyone's, decision to run for mayor," Riley said. "I will campaign without regard to whether anyone else is running for mayor."

A third candidate, Charleston author David Farrow, a former columnist for The Post and Courier, announced in December that he also would run for mayor.

Filings with the State Ethics Commission show that the Gregorie campaign started raising money in January for the mayoral race and has so far raised nearly $2,000. The campaign also carries nearly $144,000 in debt from the 2007 race, which was largely financed with funds that Gregorie loaned to his campaign.

Gregorie said his personal finances are something he's willing to risk for the good of the city.

He has reported spending $2,000 this year, on consulting fees to SCPR Associates, the Irmo political consulting firm founded by the late Republican activist Rod Shealy.

Riley also has been raising funds since January, and reported raising $125,640 as of April 10. Riley's campaign has already spent more than $43,000, mostly on payments to Campaign Manager Ginny Deerin.

Farrow, 58, has raised $3,780 and spent most of that amount, with his largest expenditures going to Rick Dalton of Mount Pleasant for campaign management.

The filing period for the Nov. 8 election will not close until late summer.