By Barney Blakeney
Though he hasn’t officially announced his candidacy, former Charleston City Councilman Maurice Washington most likely will run as a candidate for mayor in the November 5 Charleston municipal elections. Washington said he feels compelled to enter the race in order to broaden the discussion. If and when Washington formally announces, he will join five others in the race to unseat incumbent Mayor John Tecklenburg in the nonpartisan elections.
So far, much of the dominant discussions about the upcoming elections have centered on a few popular topics – the proliferation of hotel construction, flooding and redevelopment West Ashley. Washington says there are other issues that should be given prominence. Among them, elements of employment, housing affordability, racial disparities in unemployment rates, poverty, education, and the wage gap between high income earners and low income earners in Charleston.
“We can and must have thoughtful discussions on issues such as flooding, development, and transportation while at the same time deal with ongoing negative conditions that have existed in the Black community for far too long,” Washington said.
“Study after study shows African Americans earn 60 percent of what our white counterparts earn,” he said. “While unemployment rates in Charleston have declined since 2008, the Black unemployment rate still is more than double the unemployment rate for whites.”
Washington says 42 percent of Black children under age 18 live in poverty compared to 11 percent of white children. And Black students graduate high school at a rate of 75 percent compared to 90 percent of white students who graduate high school.
“Though city officials do not play a direct role in governing our school systems, there are numerous ways in which we can exercise leadership to support public schools, expand initiatives for students who struggle in traditional educational settings, increase graduation rates and promote college access and completion,” Washington said. “A skilled and educated workforce is vital to Charleston’s economic vitality,” he said.
Washington thinks Charleston residents should be impatient to address those and other issues facing the city. He thinks he has a holistic approach to addressing them. For those reasons he said he is poised to enter the race for mayor of Charleston.