By Barney Blakeney
In the region where two of the state’s three largest cities exist, November 5 municipal elections in Charleston and North Charleston have the potential to change the dynamics for Black communities. Mayoral and council candidates create a potential for radical change to take place.
In Charleston incumbent Mayor John Tecklenburg will face five challengers in a crowded field threatening the first-term mayor’s bid for re-election. That field includes two sitting councilmembers, a former councilman and two women. In the city where fewer than 30 percent of residents are Black and only about 20 percent of registered voters who cast ballots are Black, former councilman Maurice Washington has emerged as the only African American seeking election as mayor.
In North Charleston municipal elections have more color. Incumbent Mayor Keith Summey will face two African Americans and one white man and woman. All the challengers are political newcomers. Summey’s been down that road before. He faced Pastor Thomas Dixon and John Singletary, the two African Americans, four years ago. Summey hopes to again cruise to an unprecedented sixth term.
Council races in the two cities also should provide some excitement. In Charleston voters in six of the 12 council districts will elect representation. Election only will be held in odd-numbered districts -1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11. In districts 3 and 7 where two of the council’s four African American members hold seats, incumbent James Lewis in District 3 will face four challengers and in District 7 incumbent Perry Keith Waring will face political newcomer Christian King.
All 10 North Charleston council districts will elect representatives. Five of those seats – those in districts 1, 3, 6, 5, 7, and 10 – are held by African Americans. Only incumbent Michael A. Brown in District 1 is unopposed. Council Districts 6 and 7 representatives Dorothy Williams and Sam Hart, respectively, each are the longest serving having served six four-year terms. Dorothy Williams faces Jesse Williams. Hart faces Andrea Erb, Gregory Perry and St. Julian Corey Van Hannegeyn.