Ahead of the municipal election, we sent questionnaires to the candidates for mayor of Charleston and asked them to respond to each question in roughly a paragraph or so. We're re-publishing the responses from the two candidates in next week's runoff here.
Each candidate received the same questions and submitted answers, which we have listed here in entirety and without edits. We are listing responses below in alphabetical order by candidate last name.
Candidates in the Runoff for Charleston Mayor:
Live within the city limits on Johns Island? Don't forget to vote in the runoff on Tuesday, November 19! Find out more about the runoff on the Charleston city website.
1. What should be done to address infrastructure needs and development on Johns Island?
When it comes to infrastructure on Johns Island, we need to tackle multiple projects in
the short-term, specifically the Southern Pitchfork and the flyover at Main Road and Hwy.
17. I have been a longtime advocate of the Southern Pitchfork and as mayor, it will be
one of my priorities to work with the county to get it done -- unlike the incumbent who
has all but given up on the idea. Another smaller fix is the installation of a smart light at
the corner of Maybank Highway and River Road, a chokepoint that robs Johns Islanders
of time every day. Finally, it’s important to note that, unlike the incumbent, I would not
recommend a bake sale as the funding source for any of these improvements.
In terms of development, it starts with ending fill-and-build and an overhaul of zoning
codes Johns Island. That process will begin on Day 1 in the Seekings administration.
Johns Island is the rural soul of Charleston and it needs to be respected and preserved
The current administration claims to have accomplished a lot when it comes to flooding,
traffic and overdevelopment. But just look around: they are all worse than ever on Johns
Island and that won’t change without a change in leadership.
From a development point of view, we must enact new stormwater rules which will put a damper on future development. We must also act upon the recommendations of the Dutch Dialogues that address drainage in low lying areas, and other stormwater requirements, including the use of fill. On the infrastructure side, I’ll be proposing a municipal improvement district that will have what’s similar to an impact fee on future development to help pay for needed infrastructure. Lastly, the City and I are close to reaching an agreement to provide a new police and fire facility on Johns Island to improve our public safety infrastructure.
2. Please describe the role you believe the Urban Growth Boundary plays in development on Johns Island and what, if anything, should be done to preserve/enforce it.
We need to rethink what zoning and growth look like on the whole on Johns Island,
where it’s clear that residents prefer things to be less dense and more green. While
well-intended, the UGB has not been fail-proof. Development affects all Johns Islanders,
whether they live in the city or county, inside the UGB or outside of it. And the density of
growth inside the UGB has been too great. The city needs to rezone to reduce density
and eliminate fill-and-build, and also work with the county to ensure consistency across
The Urban Growth Boundary plays a vital role to contain development to higher ground areas and the area near Maybank Highway, and to limit development and preserve the rural characteristic of Johns Island. Just like four years ago, I believe the Urban Growth Boundary should be upheld and preserved. If given the chance to be your Mayor for another four years, we will strengthen the UGB with stormwater requirements that dampen development and I will continue to resist future, unnecessary development.
3. Even though District 9 schools fall under the Charleston County School Board's purview, what can the City do to support equitable resources for children on Johns Island?
This comes back to leadership, like many of the issues in this race. Who can work
with with other agencies and jurisdictions to get things done? I led the regional
transportation agency -- with a board made up of elected leaders from throughout the
region -- out of a $6 million in debt. The incumbent has failed to produce significant
stormwater and transportation infrastructure funding on the regional, state and federal
levels. It’s the sort of ineffective leadership that undoubtedly carries over into other areas
such as education.
Students on Johns Island deserve as much support as others anywhere else in the
district. I see what the kids mean to the community: the St. Johns High School
Scholarship Fund is an incredible example of that. Johns Islanders care about their
students and part of my job as mayor will be to effectively advocate for equity in
Given the limited ability for the City to directly impact our schools, we can still aid and support our children by other means. For example, just as I did with the new Stono Park Elementary School, if the School District is considering renovations to a facility or building a new facility on Johns Island, I will strongly advocate for a new facility. I will continue the City’s efforts to expand workforce development programs for students, City support for after-school art programs, and partnerships to expand access to recreational programs for our children.
4. How do you propose to work with the Charleston County government to address challenges specific to Johns Island?
I hold several positions related to regional efforts, including serving as chairman of
CARTA (which is now debt-free) and chairman of the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester
Council of Governments Safety Committee, which is working to prioritize bike/ped safety
projects throughout the region. In these roles, I work closely and amicably with county
leaders to produce results, such as the HOP park-and-ride shuttle on the peninsula.
(That type of service may very well be duplicated on Johns Island in the future.) Our
combined efforts also led to the recent opening of a $15 million transit center in North
Charleston that serves as a new Amtrak station and bus hub, and we are working
hand-in-hand on Lowcountry Rapid Transit, the state’s first large-scale public transit
project. Using these relationships and managing them with great communication --
something that is not happening with the current administration -- will translate into
progress for Johns Island when I’m mayor.
A strong City-County government partnership is crucial on Johns Island. I will continue to work with the County, with the help of the fine folks at Johns Island Community Association, to fund the Southern Pitchfork, other infrastructure improvements, and for enforcement of the County’s Urban Growth Boundary on Johns Island. Moreover, it’s imperative that we work with the County to update their building requirements to include similar improvements that we make to our stormwater rules because water doesn’t adhere to boundaries.