North Charleston Elections: Black Quality Of Life Should Improve, Says Rivers

Jerome Heyward

By Barney Blakeney

For some there hasn’t been enough time to consider all the ramifications of North Charleston’s November 5 municipal elections. Incumbent Mayor Keith Summey was re-elected. Perhaps the biggest surprise was Dist. 5 contender Jerome Heyward’s upset win over incumbent Todd Olds. The mayor’s seat and representation in all 10 council districts were decided. Twenty-three candidates were vying for those seats. Only Dist. 1 incumbent Michael A. Brown and Dist. 2 incumbent Rhonda Jerome were unopposed.

Starting at the top with the mayor’s race, the campaigns were hotly contested. Summey fought against four challengers to retain his seat. And in council districts six and seven councilmembers Dorothy Williams and Sam Hart respectively, the council’s longest serving members elected in 1991, faced challenges. Both were re-elected.

Dorothy Williams

Many voters still are trying to figure out just what that means. Of nearly 64,000 registered voters in the city only about 26,000 voted in the mayoral election, the best guess at the total number of voters who cast ballots in the election.

National Action Network Vice President for Religious Affairs and External Relations Rev. Nelson Rivers, Pastor of one of the city’s largest Black church congregations said he is among those who haven’t had time to consider what the results of the election fully means, but he knows the council now has majority Black representation – six of its 10 members are Black.

Sam Hart

“That means anything the African American community wants, voting has provided the opportunity to obtain it – a police race bias audit, affordable housing – the council has the power to put it on the city’s front-burner and to get the funding needed. We can stop the rhetoric about what we should do. Now we have the opportunity to make it happen. African Americans quality of life should improve exponentially,” Rivers said. But he cautioned that window of opportunity may only last four years until the next municipal election.

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