City residents in District 10, mostly made up of the area north of Ashley River Road from Interstate 526 out past Bees Ferry Road, will have a new representative after November's election. After 20 years, Councilman Larry Shirley is retiring and letting someone else in the growing district weigh in.
Three candidates are vying for the seat: retired businessman Art Beane, executive Dean Riegel, and Ginger Rosenberg, executive director of the Center for Women. All of them claim their experience and community knowledge make them uniquely qualified for the position.
Each candidate is actively involved in community organizations and volunteer programs. All three candidates say they have experience making difficult budget decisions in the private sector that will prepare them for city budget wrangling as revenues dip over the next few years.
"On Charleston City Council ... we're overseeing a budget of $147 million," Riegel says. "It's imperative that we have professional business people who understand economics — how to understand a budget and how to manage a budget."
Rosenberg says her businesses and nonprofit experience over two decades in Charleston have taught her valuable problem-solving techniques.
"You look for subject-matter experts and find the stakeholders, bringing these people together," she says.
Beane has been a life-long Charlestonian and spent 54 years in District 10. He's been on the city's Neighborhood Commission for 10 years and has chaired the group for the past two years.
"I'm not looking for change. I want improvement," Beane says. "I want to keep it the way it is. I just want to improve on what we've got."
Traffic on the district's main roads is a major concern for residents. Each candidate suggests fixes like turn lanes and improved traffic lights.
"I've sat in traffic and wondered, 'Who's responsible for this? I'd like to slap the hell out of them,'" Beane says. "Now, I'm going to give them somebody to slap if I don't correct the problem."
It's a quality of life issue, says Riegel.
"What quality of life is there if you're sitting in traffic for 45 minutes," he says.
All three candidates say that smart development must include traffic considerations.
"A lot of the traffic problems are a result of poor regional planning," Rosenberg says. "Clearly, what we've seen is a lot of development without the roads to carry the traffic."
Flooding is also a shared issue for the candidates, particularly after residents in the Bridge Point subdivision were chased out of their homes from rising waters.
The city is beginning to address the problem, Rosenberg says, but it will require vigilance.
"You drive through these neighborhoods, and it's all retention ponds," she says. "People are thinking, 'Could it happen to me?'"
Riegel says more city money should go toward addressing flooding issues. Beane says it goes beyond money.
"We've got to find out what works." he says.
Constituent service is important to each candidate. Rosenberg has already been meeting with voters on a weekly basis. Beane says he'll hold monthly meetings in the district to get feedback on issues coming before the council. Riegel says he'll work closely with neighborhood groups and work quickly to address constituent concerns.
As the county abandons the downtown incinerator, trash traffic will be a growing concern for the district, Rosenberg says. For the short term, the city should keep trucks off the roads during peak commuter hours.
"The long term need is to keep county council accountable for finding an alternative for the trash," she says. "That has to be a combination of alternative sites and increased recycling."
Rosenberg also wants to find ways to make government more efficient and improve regional cooperation, particularly in regards to new development.
Crime is the No. 1 issue for Beane, including adding more officers walking the streets, enmeshing themselves in the district.
"You've got to have hands-on experience," he says. "When I was growing up, I knew the policeman I could go to if I had a problem. He was someone I wasn't afraid to talk to."
Highway 61 plays an important role in Beane's campaign. He wants to make sure aging oak trees along the road aren't dangerous to passersby. It's also important for residents and the city to support businesses on 61, including advertising these businesses to tourists visiting West Ashley's historic plantation gardens.
"They come through every day and pass right by us," he says.
Riegel says he'll put his experience to work in finding improved efficiencies within the budget, looking particularly at salary schedules and whether or not performance is given more weight than simple tenure. He'd also preserve and improve spending on first responders.
"It's critical that our fire and police have the best equipment and training and allow them to do their job safely, professionally, and importantly, to return home to their family every night," Riegel says.
Rosenberg says she's running because of the importance and positive influence local government can have in people's lives.
"I'm capping my career of community service," she says. "It's to cap off a career, not to kick start something."
Similarly, Beane says that he's running now because he's got the time to address city concerns.
"I have no other obligations than to serve District 10," he says. "I can give 100 percent."
Riegel says he's encouraged by the opportunity to offer fresh blood to council debates.
"We have a huge opportunity on City Council to really add new ideas and new thoughts to the process," he says.
For more information on Ginger Rosenberg, visit rosenbergforchascitycouncil.com
For more information on Dean Riegel and Art Beane, click on the pdf files below.