By Barney Blakeney
The ballots are set for Charleston City Council elections November 7. Twelve candidates are confirmed running for the six council seats to be elected. They will compete for seats in the even numbered districts – districts two, four, six, eight, 10 and 12. All six incumbents in those districts are seeking re-election. One of the incumbents represents a majority Black council district – district four. Five Blacks sit on the 12-member council. Two Black incumbents represent majority white districts.
In the majority white West Ashley Dist. 2, first term incumbent Rodney Williams, who is Black, is vying for a second term. District Six Councilman William Dudley Gregorie, who also is Black, is seeking re-election to a third term in the majority white district that encompasses some of the peninsula west side and parts of James Island. District Four incumbent Robert Mitchell is seeking re-election to the seat he first captured in 1998. Mitchell could see the majority Black status of his Eastside Charleston district change in 2020 when council districts will be redistricted. Mitchell is the only incumbent who will be unchallenged in the November general election.
Williams, who faced opposition in his initial bid for the Dist. Two seat, is being challenged this time around by West Ashley businessman Kevin Shealy. Williams, in an unexpected victory four years ago, won the seat previously occupied by Larry Shirley.
Mitchell has tenaciously held onto the Dist. Four seat he recaptured after being drawn into the same Eastside Charleston district as former Councilman Kwadjo Campbell. Mitchell regained the seat in 2002 and has since fought off several challengers. But gentrification is rapidly changing the district. This may be Mitchell’s last hoorah until redistricting in 2020. Redistricting could have repercussions beyond Mitchell’s district as the city now has less than 30 percent Blacks residents in its single member district form of governance.
Gregorie, who previously has run for mayor says his re-election in the majority white Dist. Six proves he has the crossover power to sustain another victory. He will face off against two challengers – Fran Clasby, whom he defeated in 2013, and Amy Brennan.
In Dist. Eight, incumbent Mike Seekings is seeking a third term. He is unchallenged for the seat. District 10 incumbent Dean Riegel is seeking a third term facing off against Harry J. Griffin and professional services specialist Summer Massey. And in Dist. 12 fourth term incumbent Kathleen Wilson is challenged by retired nonprofit executive Carol Jackson for the James Island seat on council.