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Race Relations
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Six Weeks Out Nov. 3 Municipal Elections Heating Up
9/16/2015 4:51:22 PM

Keith Summey

John Singletary
By Barney Blakeney

Since the candidate filing deadlines for those seeking offices in Charleston and North Charleston municipal elections have been reached and the field of office-seekers who will be on the ballots identified, the importance of the races is taking the fights to another level.

While Charleston municipal races so far remain civil, tempers are flaring in North Charleston. In North Charleston where all 10 members of council and Mayor Keith Summey are up for re-election with just six weeks until the elections, the races are becoming more contentious. Each office is being contested.

Five of North Charleston council districts are majority Black districts, however only three are represented by African Americans. Councilmen Dot Williams and Sam Hart have represented districts six and seven respectively the past 20 years. Both are seeking re-election. And in District 10 Michael Brown is a three-term representative. As North Charleston communities face consistent high crime, unemployment and increasing gentrification, all have been criticized as ineffective.

Those accusations vehemently were exposed at a recent candidates’ forum sponsored by the S.C. Coalition for Voter Participation. Some political observers say the verbal confrontation during the crowded forum may be a taste of the flavor the upcoming elections will have.

North Charleston elections while contentious in the past always have had a predictable outcome with incumbents, especially Black incumbents, waltzing back into office. Several new contenders could change that status quo however.

In the Mayor’s race Businessman John Singletary has mounted an unrelenting challenge to incumbent Mayor Keith Summey’s 20 year reign. Singletary’s campaign has peppered the incumbent with allegations of improprieties in the administration. Summey has responded to Singletary’s allegations calling Singletary an angry Black man while Singletary says his goal is to expose nepotism and favoritism in the administration.

As Singletary brings fire to the mayor’s race, Rev. Nelson Rivers’ unexpected entry in the District 9 race is anticipated to influence a higher percentage of Black voter participation in the November 3 elections.

And in District 10 where the majority Black seat always is contended, incumbent Michael Brown will face off against Jerusalem Baptist Church Pastor Bernard Brown and Chicora-Cherokee Neighborhood Association President A.J. Davis. Coincidentally, Rev. Brown’s son Michael A. Brown will face District one incumbent Ed Astle November 3.

In Charleston the mayor’s race has all eyes wide open as three Black candidates try to win the seat over three white candidates in the city where 70 percent of the population is white. Non-profit administrator Toby Smith, Councilman William Dudley Gregorie and former councilman Maurice Washington are vying to become the city’s next mayor.
Two of the four Blacks on Charleston City Council are seeking re-election this cycle, Councilman James Lewis Jr. in District 3 and Perry Keith Waring in District 7.

Lewis faces former rival Rasheed Luqman and Jimmy Bailey Jr., heir to the political legacy of his father former state Representative and mayoral candidate Jimmy Bailey Sr. Waring faces Michael Yates in the majority Black district he won in 2012 after his father Louis Waring gave it up. Mayoral candidate William Dudley Gregorie has two years left in his District 6 seat.

Visitor Comments

Submitted By: Neil Carter Submitted: 9/17/2015
"Five of North Charleston council districts are majority Black districts, however only three are represented by African Americans." If more blacks wanted to be represented then they would run for election. These are positions you get by running for election and then get voted into office. If you don't want to run then you shouldn't be made to run just because there is a lack of black representation.

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