Bob King, Kurt Taylor to duel over seat

Bob King (left) and Kurt Taylor

The ink is barely dry on North Charleston's City Council redistricting plan and a duel between two of the city's staunchest defenders already is taking shape for the fall.

Long-time council members Bob King, with more than 12 years in office, and Kurt Taylor, with 14 years, have been drawn into the same council district covering the Park Circle area.

Both men say they plan to run again in November, setting up the only battle in North Charleston in which an incumbent will face an incumbent.

On paper, at least, Taylor is the one seemingly starting with a disadvantage.

"It's basically his (King's) district with my neighborhood added to it," Taylor said Tuesday.

City officials who drew the new council maps said population loss in the southern half of the city, coupled with 10 years of growth in the northern part, meant the two had to be put together to allow for 10 equally proportioned districts of about 9,745 people each.

King, 76, and Taylor, 49, live about a mile apart. Incumbent Sam Hart is the next closest council member, also living about a mile away in the Liberty Hill neighborhood. But his City Council seat was largely protected under the 1965 Voting Rights Act that mandates election plans be drawn in a way fair to minorities. Hart, who is black, holds one of the five majority black districts in the city.

Taylor and King both said they hold no political animosity against the other. Both also promised to play active roles in the upcoming election season where all 10 City Council seats and the position of mayor are up.

"Kurt and I work well together on a lot of things," King said.

King did say one advantage he held is that he is a full-time councilman, while Taylor is splitting his duties with his full-time job as deputy administrator with the Charleston County government.

Taylor, meanwhile, noted he is much younger than King. "I think I'm still in my prime" of public service, he said. "I fully intend to win re-election," he added.

While the city has been holding a series of public hearings on the new districts, the sessions have so far drawn little interest.

Two more hearings on the redistricting are left, both this week. They include tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Lambs Elementary School cafeteria; and Thursday at 6:30 p.m., at the Northwoods Community Center gym.

Copies of the draft map also are being displayed throughout the city, including at City Hall and in community centers and churches. Also, residents can submit comments online from the city's website. Officials hope to have first reading of the council district ordinance at the June 9 council meeting.