By Barney Blakeney
Charleston City Councilman Mike Seekings wants to be a part of Charleston’s development into what it will become in the future. A lot of what the city does will impact that future. That’s why he’s served on the council 10 years and now wants to become mayor. It’s a role he takes seriously and he’s equipped himself with the ability and experience to fulfill it.
Seekings runs his own construction litigation law firm, but he considers his city council seat a full time job as well. Voted “Charleston’s Best City Council Member” each of the last nine years, Seekings currently serves on council’s Community Development, Small Claims and Traffic and Transportation committees. He is chair of the Audit Committee.
A magna cum laude graduate of Amherst College who received his law degree from the University of Pittsburgh, Seekings was a clerk for former South Carolina Governor Donald S. Russell on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He is a former member of the South Carolina Bar’s House of Delegates and the executive committee of the Charleston Bar.
Chair of the city’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory, Seekings has a record of accomplishment and is ‘Fit to Lead Charleston’ into its next era of success. A cancer survivor, Seekings is a private pilot and one of Charleston’s most avid runners, competing in marathons and road races across the country. He stepped in to fill the role as Cooper River Bridge Run interim director overseeing the city’s largest annual event.
The District 8 Councilman says Charleston is one of the most important cities in the country. It is a city rich in history and pride, he says, and should be a city for everyone. Charleston’s manner of life is changing. Life on and off the peninsula is changing. The cost of living in the city, especially on the peninsula where the population has shrunk by half since over the past 40 years is increasing. But people should be able to live near where they work. Jobs, attainable housing and mobility are vital to the success of the city and its residents, he said.
For the city’s African American community those elements are clearly visible, Seekings said. He believes the city and its leadership can influence that in large part. As some 3,500 units of market rate housing units currently are being developed on the peninsula, the city isn’t equipped to solely build or attain housing, but it can impact how housing is developed, Seekings said. While housing that is attainable for all citizens is a regional issue, Charleston can take the lead to address it, he said. We shouldn’t be afraid of ‘density’, he said.
He believes mobility can help relieve some of that pressure. Seekings helped move the Charleston Area Transit Authority out of debt since becoming the board’s chair. CARTA’s fleet is oldest, he said, but is 70 percent complete in being replaced. Partnerships with employers are moving the workforce from residential centers to work centers.
“I know more about inner-city workings, regional transportation and infrastructure than anybody else in the race,” he says confidently. It’s an asset he thinks will serve him well as mayor.
Charleston’s next mayor will grapple with many issues that affect how the city moves into the future – diversity, flooding, transportation, minority business development, public education and public safety are among them. Seekings says addressing those issues requires experience and ability. They are assets he possesses.