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Re: “Columbia has finally elected an African-American mayor. When will Charleston?

I know Clay; Clay is not a racist, he is actually one of the bright young voices in the Black community and as long as we can keep him in Charleston, we will benefit greatly from his contributions. In terms of a conversation, I think it is a good one.

That said I think you painted Columbia and Charleston both unfairly; on top of demographic differences, business differences, cultural differences, and most importantly governmental differences, Charleston and Columbia are like apples and oranges. But because we are different does not make us less progressive or a worse off place to live - I would argue the quality of life in Charleston is amongst the best in the world (certainly better than Columbia); and guess what, it was a progressive mayor that made it possible - Riley is even progressive in his conservativeness (look at his work on preservation). Clay it was before your time, and mine too, but do you realize that they used to call Riley, "little Black Joe." That was certainly not for his anti-progressive or anti-Black leanings.

I like Steve Benjamin, he is a great guy, he will be a great mayor for Columbia; but I hate to break it to you - he will not be able to get around the form of government they chose up there. The mayor of Columbia is essentially a tiebreaker, it is very symbolic but like the Lt Governor it is a part time job what requires a ton of time for little money and in the long run no real control. He will make great speeches and try to set agendas but it is up to the council to do anything. Charleston has a strong mayor type of government and council is important but on a day to day basis the buck stops with Joe.

Charleston has had a string of progressive mayors by the way, it actually is the norm, I would argue if you look at the direction that mayor's of Charleston governed all the way back to John P. Grace's second term the most successful and predominant characteristic was progressiveness in terms of growth and services.

Clay I do not know when we will have a Black or woman mayor, but when it happens it will have to be someone who can identify with all of the communities in Charleston. Kwadjo and Dudley can't do that; Steve Benjamin did in Columbia.

One last thing, back to the form of government point, Steve is keeping his law firm, Bob Coble still practiced with Nelson Mullins while he was mayor - don't get me wrong they are sacrificing a lot. But the reality in Charleston is that at least amongst Black men (I will get to that in a sec) the most electable (and qualified I might add) are making money hand over fist and it would be a larger sacrifice to take the mayors full time position. Do I think Marlon Kimpson or Dwayne Green are electable citywide - short answer, not over Riley but yes - are they qualified, without a doubt - would they be crazy to give up their practices with the type of money they are making, yes. The woman issue is another argument - but I have rambled enough - Toya Hampton Green would make an excellent mayor if she wanted to and I think she would not have a problem winning all segments of the vote, so there, your answer.

Clay there are many things about you that make me proud, you are a Citadel man, a decorated combat veteran, a leader and good example in your community - but Clay you are allowed to be proud of Charleston, its a pretty damn good place to live and we are doing ok by most standards; the city is still progressive and the time will come soon enough I am sure.

Posted by CCS on July 22, 2010 at 5:53 PM
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