All Charleston Mayoral candidates participate in West Ashley debate

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WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCBD) – All six candidates running for Mayor of Charleston went head to head during a debate in West Ashley Thursday night.

Charleston city councilman Gary White, West Ashley resident Sheri Irwin, previous Charleston city councilman Maurice Washington, current Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, Charleston resident Renee Orth and Charleston city councilman Mike Seekings participated in the debate at the Congregation of Dor Tikvah.

The candidates answered 12 random questions. 72% of the questions came from West Ashley residents, 18% from West Ashley property owners, 5% from James Island residents and 5% from the city of Charleston. Nearly half of the questions surrounded traffic. Here were some of the questions:

  • What do you plan to do to help traffic flow in West Ashley ?
  • How, where, and when can mass transit be implemented? How will a dream mass transit system be funded?
  • What are your plans for traffic caused by the road near Bees Ferry?
  • What immediate changes to the city and or mayor’s office would you make in your first 7-10 days of office ?
  • I believe that the scope of ethics center is too large. Even though Richard Davis is trying to convince us that nine 25 story buildings are supposed to be flexible, what are your thoughts on this and how would it impact surrounding neighborhoods, traffic patterns, draining etc. 
  • The West Ashley community is tired of being treated the red headed step child of Charleston, what are your thoughts on trying to change this?
  • What are the three most serious threats to the sustainability of our quality of life in Charleston? What are your plans to address the three threats?
  • what are your thoughts on the epicenter?

When asked about what the candidates would do during their first seven to 10 days in office; here were their answers:

  • Tecklenburg: “Not much. I would continue to work on these issues and initiatives that we are talking about and focusing on West Ashley and it’s revitalization.
  • White: “We have had a significant challenge with my colleagues on the council and I with the current administration with communication. The first thing I would do day one is begin building better communication with my colleagues on city council.”
  • Irwin: “On day one the first thing I would like to do is get with FEMA and make sure up to date on five year plan because we can’t get funding for mitigating flooding.”
  • Seekings: “One of the things I would do immediately is condense and consolidate. We have not had a structural change in our government in 44 years and we run the same way.”
  • Orth: I would immediately start implementing the recommendations of the dutch dialogues and the emphasis on green infrastructure.”
  • Washington: “I value the importance of balancing great infrastructure with green infrastructure and deal with the floodwaters at the point of the flood so it doesn’t overwhelm the drainage system.”

When asked about mitigating traffic in the West Ashley area; here were their answers:

  • White: ” 85% of people in west Ashley drive somewhere else to work. If we had business centers and job centers here in West Ashley where people can live and work, the idea is that we can take a significant number of vehicle trips off the road every single day.”
  • Orth: “We can produce technology to create a car pool app that operates like Uber and Lyft except less expensive.”
  • Tecklenburg: “The answer is widening Glenn McConnell so we can improve those intersections up and down Savannah Highway.”
  • Washington: “When talking about expanding roads and extending roads you have to be very careful.”
  • Irwin: “Your government shouldn’t be doing social engineering and saying you live here so we are going to build some stuff here for you to work and they shouldn’t be using your tax dollars to do that.”

Voters said they enjoyed the debate, but are still looking to learn more about the candidates.

“I’m trying to get a sense of who they are as people,” James Island resident, Michael Glawson said. “Also what they bring the office and what their leaderships styles might be.”

“What are you going to do for the people? It’s all about the people,” North Charleston resident Latrecia Pond said.

News 2’s cameras were the only ones inside of the debate Thursday. News 2’s Carolyn Murray also moderated.

Voting will take place November 5, 2019.

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