Get Out And Vote Charleston Mayoral Race…
October 29, 2015
By John Steinberger | Contributing Writer
This issue of West Of is the last one before the Tuesday, Nov. 3 elections for Mayor of Charleston and six City Council seats. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and absentee ballots may be cast at the Charleston County Election Commission at 4367 Headquarters Rd. in North Charleston weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. right up until the day before the election.
During the Mayoral election of 2011, only 21 percent of the City of Charleston’s 81,000 registered voters cast ballots. Four years later, Charleston has 89,000 registered voters, the vast majority of whom live in West Ashley. I hope that we have significantly greater turnout this year. We all have a stake in the future of our community.
I have indicated in previous columns that I support Maurice Washington for Mayor. Maurice is on the Charleston County Republican Party Executive Committee. He served on Gov. Mark Sanford’s transition team following the 2002 and 2006 elections. He’s the only Republican and conservative Mayoral candidate on the ballot.
We can all thank Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. for his 40 years of service as our mayor. Charleston has been rated the top tourist destination by Conde Nast Travel Magazine five years running. We have diverse cultural attractions, ranging from the Spoleto Festival to the Moja Arts Festival. We have a professional and effective police force, a thriving restaurant market, and magnificent recreation opportunities.
Charleston still faces many challenges. West Ashley traffic backs up frequently along the major arteries, specifically on Ashley River Road, Bees Ferry Road, Sam Rittnberg Boulevard, and Savannah Highway. We need a plan to relieve that congestion. Our drainage system needs major improvements, with flooding becoming more frequent along the Bees Ferry Road corridor. That will require our next mayor to work closely with the Charleston County Council and the S.C. Dept. of Transportation.
Maurice Washington has made it clear that he wants to focus on the core services of government and to hold off on new development until we have the infrastructure in place to accommodate it. As the City Councilman who chaired the Ways and Means Committee, he understands the budget better than his opponents and is determined to eliminate wasteful spending.
We have four contested City Council seats in West Ashley. The four incumbents, Aubry Alexander, Marvin Wagner, Keith Waring, and Bill Moody, have pushed our City Council to focus more on the needs of West Ashley than ever before. There are 12 City Council seats (six on the ballot Nov. 3) and the Mayor is also a voting member on Council.
There have been lots of improvements in West Ashley in recent years. The North Bridge Park has been a huge success, improving the landscape and giving our citizens access to the beautiful Ashley River. The Bees Landing Recreation Center and Mary Ader Park have provided great recreational opportunities for tens of thousands in our most rapidly growing area. A sidewalk was recently constructed connecting North Bridge Park with Charles Towne Landing.
There are significant projects in the works for West Ashley, including a new Senior Center, drainage improvement plans, and four new waterfront parks, which have already been funded. With the right leadership, many more improvements will take place in West Ashley.
Alexander has been my Councilman for eight years. He represents the Old Towne district, which extends from the North Bridge to Avondale and the neighborhoods along Orange Grove Road. He has been an advocate for West Ashley and also is a fiscal conservative who wants our tax dollars spent wisely. More importantly, he is always accessible. He attends coffees at the Sojourn Café on Old Towne Road every Thursday morning and always returns e-mails and phone calls.
Alexander values his West Ashley colleagues Wagner, Waring, and Moody. “They are business-like and analytical and laser-focused on improving the quality of life in West Ashley,” he says. Some of their objectives include Citadel Mall redevelopment, improving the infrastructure, including more sidewalks and fiber-optic cable installation, and ensuring that West Ashley gets a greater share of the accommodations tax receipts.
These are my personal picks and not the endorsement of this newspaper. You may not agree with my picks for Mayor or City Council, but please do your civic duty and vote on Nov. 3 or vote absentee at the Election Commission Headquarters. We all have a stake in making Charleston a better place to live.
John Steinberger is the former chairman of the Charleston County Republican Party, a leading Fair Tax advocate, and a West Ashley resident. He can be reached at John.firstname.lastname@example.org.