Two Charleston City Council races likely headed for Nov. 17 runoff

The race for Charleston City Council continues for four candidates for two council seats. Voters check in at Burke High School Tuesday morning. Leroy Burnell/Staff

The race for Charleston City Council likely will continue for four candidates, including incumbent James Lewis, the group’s longest-serving member.

Candidates for two council seats — incumbent Gary White and Shawn Pinkston in District 1, and Lewis and Jimmy Bailey in District 3 — likely will face each other again in a Nov. 17 runoff, election officials said Wednesday.

In unofficial results from Tuesday’s election for District 1, Pinkston, an attorney, got 49.93 percent of the vote and White, a business banking manager, got 49.61 percent. Write-in votes made up 0.46 percent.

In District 3, Lewis, a retired department manager for Piggly Wiggly Inc., got 49.78 percent of the vote and Bailey, a community management executive, got 43.4 percent. A third candidate in that race, Luqman Rasheed, got 6.16 percent and write-in votes made up 0.65 percent.

To win, a candidate must have at least 50 percent plus one vote.

The Municipal Election Commission will meet at noon Thursday to open challenged ballots, count additional votes and then certify the results of the election, said Municipal Election Commission attorney Lucas Padgett. After the results are certified, election officials will make the final call on the runoffs.

Lewis, who has been serving on City Council since 1995, said, of course, he would have rather won outright. “It was a tough election, but a good, clean election,” he said.

And he and campaign workers for the next two weeks are going to continue reaching out to voters, especially about creating more jobs and affordable housing, he said.

Bailey said Lewis was “my opponent, not my enemy.”

But Bailey thinks many of the upper-peninsula voters he would represent are concerned about the impact of growth from nearby redevelopment efforts, such as WestEdge, the former Magnolia development and Courier Square. And they liked his fresh perspective, he said. The area is going to grow, he said. “But we need smart growth,” including new housing with a range of prices.

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White said he isn’t going to take any action until Thursday, when he learns if he actually will be in a runoff. If he is, he will sit down with his campaign team and develop a strategy for the next two weeks.

Pinkston said he still hopes he can win outright.

He also said he ran because he thought White wasn’t effective, and that he wasn’t engaged in the community on Daniel Island.

If he is in a runoff, he will continue to talk to voters about his plans to bring more resources to Daniel Island, especially a community center. He said he thinks the city has promised, but not delivered, many things to the Daniel Island community. “We paid our taxes but we haven’t seen the projects,” he said.

Incumbents finished strong in other City Council races. They held their seats in three of the four remaining races. But District 9 incumbent Aubry Alexander, with 48.27 percent of the vote, lost to Peter Shahid, with 51.4 percent.

Reach Diane Knich at (843) 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.

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