Welcome back to City Hall, Mayor Riley. You know where everything is, so make yourself at home -- for four more years. OK, so no one is surprised that the voters of Charleston elected to give you a 10th term in office. But even in a town where the H-word carries extra weight, that's historic. The people have returned you to the helm of this great city because of your track record. Charleston has come a long way in the past 36 years, and no one could argue that you didn't have a lot to do with that. Your legacy is cemented, and the Board of Architectural Review has probably already approved a fine statue of you for somewhere on the peninsula. You deserve it. But in this what-have-you-done-for-me-lately culture, folks are going to expect a lot from you in this, your historic final term in office. Basically, you're going to have to find a way to fix the Crosstown. Nattering nabobs Some people thought this time you might not be able to squeak by. Those downtown folks sure are mad about those cruise ships, and they have stirred things up quite a bit. But sort of like the tea party, the cruise control crowd is just loud, not particularly large. Most people know you aren't going to turn this place into Myrtle Beach, so the Carnival caper was a non-issue. They fought you on Charleston Place too -- remember? That turned out pretty well. Spoleto came on your watch, along with the rehabilitation of downtown, dropping crime rates, and a gorgeous Waterfront Park. Yes, people have complained about your annexation policy, said you were empire-building. They griped that you were too focused on downtown, that you favored the tourism industry over residents. Those are some pretty weak attacks, particularly when they have a 36-year record to pick apart. What do they want? Charleston just got voted the best city in America by some magazine, and various groups have said you are the best mayor in America. So time for your encore. Biggest challenge? The pejorative take on you, mayor, is that you do exactly what you want, no matter what anyone says. Your way or the highway.
The more positive spin is that you can pull off anything you want to. You led this town through one of its greatest disasters -- Hurricane Hugo -- and you found someone to put up half the money for a Gaillard renovation. You are about to open up more waterfront with this new cruise terminal deal. That's legacy stuff. One more thing and you've pulled the hat trick. The Crosstown is going to be tough -- fixing those drainage issues will cost $150 million, which is basically the city's operating budget for a year. But you have proven time and again, you can do anything you set your mind to. FEMA money to repair the Dock Street Theatre? That was genius. Your final challenge may be your greatest one. It's going to take some work, and you will need some help. But Mayor, if anyone can do it, you can.