Question #15: If elected mayor, what legacy would you leave behind? 

After Riley

click to enlarge Mayor Joe Riley leaves his Charleston City Hall office at the beginning of next year.

Sam Spence

Mayor Joe Riley leaves his Charleston City Hall office at the beginning of next year.

This week marks the final installment in City Paper's ongoing series "After Riley" presented in conjunction with Lowcountry Local First, Preservation Society of Charleston, S.C. Community Loan Fund, Coastal Conservation League, and IfYouWereMayor.com. In it, candidates have been asked to answer a series of questions regarding culture, commerce, and livability. Candidates have responded with no knowledge of any other participant's answers.

The series will culminate on Sept. 30 with a forum put on by these organizations. The forum is free and open to the public. Those interested in attending can RSVP at YourCharleston.org.

Question:

If elected mayor, what legacy would you leave behind?

Ginny Deerin

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I hope my legacy would be compassionate and effective leadership. The unity we experienced since the massacre at Mother Emanuel was tremendous. There is much remaining work to build on Mayor Riley's legacy of bringing people of all walks of life together. Our citizens are looking for a leader to preserve and protect the Charleston we love, while tackling challenges to make it an even greater city. It is a tall order, which my past experiences have prepared me to tackle.

Compassion means putting people first and informs how we approach the major issues facing our city: traffic, growth, and education. Thinking big, seizing opportunities, compassionate leadership, and getting things done — those will be, I hope, the hallmarks of a Deerin administration. That ethos has truly been my life story. Growth, traffic, and education will have the most substantial impact on our day-to-day and quality of life.

When it comes to growth, we need a mayor who will direct growth to where we want it and keep it away from where we don't. I will have the backbone to stand up to developers when their plans would undermine our quality of life, but I will help developers move their projects forward when their projects are right for Charleston.

We spend too much time sitting in traffic — a problem the impending growth will exacerbate. Our city's popularity cannot be its death sentence. I am committed to putting people first by making our city easier to get around, which is why I released a 10-point transportation plan. It's a robust plan that you can find on my website. The plan clearly identifies reliable funding streams.

I have a lifelong commitment to education that has yielded real results. I founded WINGS for Kids, an effective after-school program focused on teaching kids the social and emotional skills they were missing. We've served thousands of students, and over 90 percent of participants saw their test scores or grades improve. That is thousands of success stories.

I will not be a leader who steps back from challenges by saying, "It's not my job." There's enough of that in government already. We elect leaders — especially mayors — to get things done. I intend to work with the community to tackle big issues that undermine our quality of life or prevent us from being our best.

I would leave behind a legacy of compassionate and effective leadership that protected Charleston, created a world-class mobility system, and improved education outcomes for kids.

William Dudley Gregorie

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One Charleston: A City That Works For Everyone — that is what I hope that my legacy would be. I want every citizen in every part of this city to feel as if they are a part of this wonderful city that we call home. For too long, I believe Charleston has only been thought of as downtown on the peninsula and that's simply not the case. We have James Island, Johns Island, Daniel Island, West Ashley, and even parts of Cainhoy (with more to come) to consider. Everyone in each of these areas deserves to have their issues or potential issues addressed with the same vigor that we tackle things regarding downtown.

I want to create "choice neighborhoods" that transform distressed neighborhoods and public and assisted projects into viable and sustainable mixed-income neighborhoods by linking housing improvements with appropriate services, schools, public assets, transportation, and access to jobs. With a strong emphasis placed on local community planning for access to high-quality educational opportunities, including early childhood education, I want public education to be a big part of all of this. I will be the education mayor; I've said this on numerous occasions. Every child in this city is owed that. We cannot afford to have some of our schools in certain areas under-performing, while others in more prosperous neighborhoods and areas thrive. We can accomplish this by simply replicating what works successfully at schools like Charleston Development Academy and Buist.

So that is the legacy I want to leave behind. That and in 100 years, as people discuss my administration, they will cite it as the one that brought the entire city under one umbrella and made all of its citizens truly feel as if they were included.

Toby Smith

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If elected mayor, I want my legacy to reflect that early childhood education was impacted and that more support for kindergartners' reading, which, by the time they've reached third grade, impacted the data for third-grade readiness.

My legacy will reflect a marked increase in the number of black people living, working, and owning homes on the peninsula. The Eastside will not be the community where people drive through quickly; it will be on the way to becoming a community that is valued for her history and for providing a great neighborhood to live and grow.

Charleston will be recognized as a growing green city that utilized clean-energy sources to provide "step-up" jobs for residents of public housing in what became a model program.

A highlight will be the opening of the International African American Museum. World leaders from throughout the African diaspora will come to Charleston to participate, and it will mark the beginning of a long period of reconciliation in which Charleston will rise to leadership throughout the nation to create a new model of economic development based on racial equality.

Consensus will be reached on a mass transit prototype, and funding streams will be identified. And people will wonder how Mayor Toby Smith, who put the "L" in longshot as the political newcomer when she ran in 2015, manages to look younger than she did when she first took office.

Thank you to all involved for this opportunity. It's a very distinct honor to be included as a candidate for mayor of one of America's, and the world's, most beloved places — Charleston, S.C.

Leon Stavrinakis

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I want my legacy to be a Charleston that remains the best city in America and the enviable, livable, special place we all love.

To accomplish that, we need a hands-on mayor who is the tested, proven leader Charleston needs — someone ready for the job on day one and focused on delivering the best city services and producing results that improve people's lives thorough less traffic, safe streets, and excellent neighborhoods.

I have a vision of where to lead Charleston in the future, always making sure to keep our special city livable for all. My plan is practical and straightforward: Fix our streets, tackle traffic and cut commute times, improve our schools, keep people safe, and demand excellence in everything we do. Because that's what the people of Charleston expect, and that's what they deserve.

As mayor, I will roll up my sleeves and focus on the details of what makes our city unique, and every day, I will ask what we've done to make people's lives a little easier and a little better.

Over the course of my entire career as a public servant, as chairman of Charleston County Council and in the state legislature, I have a proven record of getting things done for Charleston. I have consistently brought Democrats and Republicans together to secure funds for major projects in Charleston, such as the deepening of the Port of Charleston, I-526, support for the hospitality industry, and the improvement of our local schools, all while holding the line on taxes. After a mentally disturbed woman tried to open fire at a local school, I wrote and passed the Boland Act, which keeps guns out of the hands of mentally ill patients. And just this year, I led the fight to allow transportation networking companies like Uber to operate legally in South Carolina.

If I become mayor, I will not only tackle the major issues facing our city, I will use my leadership, experience, and vision to continue our prosperity while also protecting and improving the quality of life Charlestonians expect and deserve.

John Tecklenburg

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Well, to be honest, I think it would be more than a little presumptuous for any mayoral candidate to start talking about his or her "legacy" in office before the first vote has even been cast. So, if you don't mind, what I'll do instead is talk a little bit about what I plan to do as mayor and how all that ties into my larger vision for Charleston as a whole.

First, I believe the top three issues facing our city today are: 1) Public safety, because keeping people safe is the first job of government, and the most solemn duty of any mayor; 2) Livability, because it's time for our city to start making our citizens' quality of life a top priority; and 3) Improving city services with technology, not taxes, because as a business person, I understand that leveraging technology to deliver first-rate customer service, even as you're controlling costs, is every bit as important as the product itself. To learn more about my comprehensive plan with regard to each of these issues, please visit my website.

And as the only candidate for mayor with significant executive experience in business, the nonprofit sector, and City of Charleston government, I understand in my bones that these goals can only be achieved if we work together collaboratively with our fellow citizens to find answers that work for all of us. That's why I believe in a governing model for Charleston that's fundamentally inclusive, with significant citizen-, business-, and community-interest involvement from the beginning right through the end of the decision-making process. It's also why I believe so strongly that Charleston's best days are still ahead.

Never before in my lifetime have I seen the people of Charleston so engaged in our community or so committed to making it better. From the Sgt. Jasper redevelopment controversy to finding solutions to our area's growing traffic and tourism challenges to our community's remarkable response to the terrible tragedy that took place here in June, our citizens are uniting in common purpose.

And if the people of Charleston give me the honor of serving as their next mayor, I will do everything in my power to harness the power of that citizen energy and use it to make our city's future ever better than its present.

Maurice Washington

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Being the No. 1 travel and tourism destination means nothing to you if we aren't No. 1 in livability, education, and job opportunities.

Charleston is a unique place and a historic city. It has expanded rapidly in the past 20 years. It now has five distinct areas: the peninsula, West Ashley, James Island, Johns Island, and Daniel Island/Cainhoy. I respect the uniqueness of each of these areas and want them to all feel that they are vital parts of the whole city. I want to be remembered as a mayor who listened to the wants and needs of the citizens and worked diligently to make a fiscally sound and safe city. I want to be remembered as a mayor that embraced diversity and inclusion, a mayor who worked from the bottom up to help Charleston become ranked as a top 10 city in America for education, quality of life, and opportunity.

We may be separated geographically, but as I have talked to regular citizens all over our city, I've learned that we are united by our desire for a better quality of life. I want to be a mayor who is remembered for giving everyone a seat at the table as we plan for our future together. Most importantly, I want to be a mayor who can unite Charleston.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Responses have been placed in alphabetical order.


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