Charleston County School Board member Chris Collins formally kicked off his bid to become mayor of North Charleston by stressing the city’s educational needs and calling for a police department and judiciary that’s more in tune with minorities.
“Until we educate everybody, we are still in slavery,” Collins said today.
Collins said the city’s courts need to be reflective of North Charleston’s diversity, including with Hispanic, Asian and black magistrates assigned to the local bench. “Every judge for every kind of people,” he said.
Collins, 47, is pastor of the Healing Ministries Baptist Church Center and owner of Charleston Appliances. He is in his first term on the school board, representing North Charleston.
Stressing a platform that largely promotes public education is in line with the duties of running City Hall, Collins said. The local mayors already have open lines of dialogue with the school superintendent over how best to make improvements at the local level, he said.
Collins had no harsh words for incumbent Mayor Keith Summey. “I can’t say he’s doing anything wrong. But his eyes might not be open” to the needs of all residents, Collins said. He called Summey “a fine person and doing the best that he can.”
Reached later, Summey, 64, who is seeking a fifth full term, said the city already is expanding diversity in its ranks. He said he knew Collins and considered him a decent person but questioned how much North Charleston’s schools have improved since he’s been in office.
At his announcement Collins said he had no position on the most heated issue of the day in North Charleston: picking a preference between the dueling state and city plans on how to approach and address rail lines and traffic toward the new State Ports Authority terminal being built at the southern end of the city.
In North Charleston, Collins is leasing space for his church center from the school district, at the vacant Charlestowne Academy site. The school board at first denied Collins’ application to lease space after questions about cost and a potential conflict of interest were raised by some members. The board later changed its stance, approving a lease in February 2010.
The district said the lease, which runs $664 per month for 16 hours of usage, is consistent with standard market rates. Collins said there is no conflict because he is paying what the district would charge anyone.
Filing for the non-partisan Nov. 8 citywide election officially opens this summer. All 10 City Council seats are up as well.