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Palmetto Sunrise: Changing faces of new Charleston leadership?

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Palmetto Sunrise: Changing faces of new Charleston leadership?

Mayor Joe Riley in December walks the route of the ‘2014 City of Charleston Holiday Parade!’, which started on Broad Street and turned up King Street to Marion Square.

Will the next mayor of Charleston opt for a clean sweep of key officials or will he or she stay the course?

Charleston has known a remarkable amount of continuity as longtime Mayor Joe Riley ends his 40-year tenure at the city’s helm. The question of what new leadership means for the city will be debated amongst the candidates hoping to replace the retiring Riley in November’s election. For the city’s leadership, it’s an even more anxious time.

Police Chief Greg Mullen said all city department heads probably have started to think about what the transition will mean to them, the Post and Courier’s Robert Behre reported.

“The new mayor could come in and decide they want to bring their own team in,” Mullen said. “If that’s the case, they certainly would have the ability to do that. Speaking specifically for me, I would certainly hope that whoever is elected would give us an opportunity to sit down with them, to talk with them and explain what we’re doing.”

Riley’s shoes will be large — the reception he received in Washington, D.C., recently where he was treated like a municipal “rock star,” as Brian Hicks described it, shows the enormity of the reputation that precedes him.

At least one problem will be left to the next city CEO: which buildings are historic and worth saving and which need to step aside for a more modern future. The New York Times took on that dilemma over the weekend.

It’s a problem that also reflects the city’s renaissance, as the Times described:

“Well, they’re just not beautiful,” Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., said of the new buildings in an interview at Charleston City Hall, which was completed in 1804 and is attributed to a local architect, Gabriel Manigault. “The materials, the execution — you don’t feel excellence there. They’re not special. You don’t walk by and say, ‘I’m glad that got built.’”

Such problems may seem trivial to the Detroits of the world, and reflect more universal tensions in the realms of architecture and historic preservation. But they are particularly acute in Charleston, where new arrivals and a diverse economy threaten to transform a merely beautiful metropolis into an economically important one.

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