By Barney Blakeney
The slate of candidates for North Charleston City Council may be just as perplexing for African American voters as the slate of candidates for mayor.
Representation for in all 10 council districts will be decided in the November 5 elections. Twenty-three candidates are vying for those seats. Only Dist. 1 incumbent Michael A. Brown and Dist. 2 incumbent Rhonda Jerome are unopposed in the elections.
For African Americans in the city, the November 5 elections are pivotal. About half the city’s residents are Black (46.6 percent in 2010). They comprise the city’s largest racial group. In 2010, whites comprised about 38 percent of the city’s population. About 11 percent of the population was Hispanic or Latino in 2010. Five of the council’s 10 representatives are Black.
While North Charleston ranks among the state’s most prosperous municipalities, economic disparities among its racial minority communities is stark. According to Wikipedia, “North Charleston has been the state’s leader in retail sales since 1989. In calendar year 2012, gross retail sales exceeded $6.15 billion and surpassed its nearest competition, Columbia, by over $2 billion. Since the construction of Palmetto Commerce Parkway, many businesses (including Venture Aerobearings, Daimler Vans Manufacturing, Cummins Turbo, and the VTL Group) have located and invested hundreds of millions of dollars in North Charleston’s economy. Industrial hubs continue to provide high-paying jobs in the area.”
Wikipedia continues, “The median income for a household in the city was $36,719, and the median income for a family was $34,621. Males had a median income of $30,620 versus $28,248 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,361 … About 20 percent of families and 23 percent of the population were below the poverty line … As of 2016, North Charleston had the highest rate of eviction filings and judgments of any American city with a population of 100,000 or more (in states where complete data was available).”
Voters in North Charleston November 5 will have the opportunity to continue leadership in which those dynamics persist or elect new leadership.
In Dist. 3 four-year incumbent Virginia Jamison competes for re-election against two opponents – Russell Colletti and Kathleen Love; Dist. 4 incumbent Ron Brinson will compete for the seat he’s held since his election in 2011 against Travis Blissett; and Dist. 5 incumbent who was elected in 2011 will compete against Althea Hallwhite and Jerome Heyward.
Two councilmembers Dorothy Williams and Sam Hart are council’s longest serving members. Both were elected in 1991. Williams faces Jesse Williams in Dist. 6 and Hart will face Andrea Erb, Gregory Perry and St. Julian ‘Corey’ Van Hannegeyn in Dist. 7. In Dist. 8, incumbent Councilman Robert ‘Bob’ King, who first was elected in 1998, will face Gordon Garrett and William Parker. Incumbent Michael Brown in Dist. 10, first elected in 2007, will face Daquan Washington.