CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – After a difficult year filled with unexpected challenges, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg is optimistic about 2021.
In his annual ‘State of the City Address,’ Tecklenburg reflected over the trials and triumphs that the city faced in 2020 as well as his plans and priorities for this year.
“The state of our city is strong. Charleston strong,” says Mayor Tecklenburg.
He says Charlestonians have prevailed stronger than ever after the COVID-19 Pandemic, however, there is still a long way to go. His first priority for this year is making sure citizens are safe from the virus.
Instead of making a “laundry list” of goals for the city, Mayor Tecklenburg decided to address the most critical questions being asked right now.
QUESTION 1: How can we continue to protect ourselves from COVID-19, and when will this pandemic and the associated economic downturn end?
He says the path is clear now that the COVID-19 vaccine is finally going into the arms of thousands of people in Phase 1-A. That said, he hopes that the process can be sped up to distribute as efficiently as possible.
In the meantime, he is urging all Charlestonians to double-down on hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing.
“If we do these things, we can save lives and help our business community now–and look forward to the simple pleasures of hugging a friend, visiting an older relative, or enjoying a show well before this year is out,” he says.
QUESTION 2: Do we believe what we say about liberty and justice for all, and what are we willing to do to achieve it?
The mayor talks about 2020 being a turning point in the fight towards racial equality in Charleston.
“Already, that work has paid dividends,with the city’s apology for its role in slavery, the removal of the Calhoun memorial from Marion Square, and the independent racial bias audit of our police department, which is already hard at work implementing the report’s recommendations for reform,” he says.
He says this year the fight will continue with new plans from the Commission on Equity, Diversity and Racial Conciliation and the construction of the International African American Museum
“Will this work be quick or easy? Of course not. But for the first time in our long and complicated
history, we can begin to imagine that shared future and opportunities for ALL our citizens,” says Tecklenburg.
QUESTION 3: How will we secure Charleston’s future, as the climate continues to change, and the waters continue to rise?
Tecklenburg went over additional plans to mitigate climate change, introduce fresh flooding/drainage solutions and ensure the Holy City is protected for decades to come.
“At this point, we all understand the threat our city faces from flooding. And we know that
without bold action, the future can only be one of surrender and retreat,” says Tecklenburg.
QUESTION 4: How can we preserve affordability in our housing market to ensure that Charleston remains a working city in the years to come?
The mayor says Charleston leaders are fighting housing on all fronts. This year the city will be investing millions of dollars to expand affordable housing to ensure no one is left behind.
“We’ve given our Housing Authority the go-ahead to work with the federal government to replace or rehabilitate every public housing project in the city–an initiative that will both increase overall housing supply and give our public housing residents a safer, cleaner, better place to live,” he says.
Moving forward, the theme for 2021 is optimism. Mayor Tecklenburg says he is confident that Charlestonians will take on any challenges in the upcoming months and end the year stronger than ever.