October 23, 2007: Today, we were treated to hear from the four Charleston mayoral candidates. Each gave us a five minute presentation on his visions, the reasons he would make the best mayor, and how he would govern the City of Charleston. The candidates are Omar Brown, Mayor Joe Riley, William “Dudley” Gregorie, and Marc Knapp. The candidates were introduced by Larry Tarleton, who moderated the spirited debate.
Omar Brown led off the debate by characterizing himself as innovative, enthusiastic, and hard worker who knows about the Charleston streets. His goal is to make the lives of Charlestonians better and to keep them safe. He stated, “while the Mayor is not directly responsible for education, improving our educational system would make the lives of everyone better.” He indicated that having been a victim of crime himself, he understands the importance of pulling the municipalities together to work to make Charleston a safer place.
Next, Mayor Joe Riley indicated it was an honor to serve Charleston during his tenure as Mayor and reiterated his desire to continue to serve in the future. The Mayor listed a number of accomplishments such as the blossoming of the Biotech community to improve drainage for the City. Mayor Riley addressed public safety by looking forward to working with the Chief of the Fire Department to address the issues that were recently reported to strengthen the organization to be one of the best in the nation. His vision for the future includes a computer rail, community centers for learning, and expanded parks.
William “Dudley” Gregorie stated he felt we needed a change and renewed focus on our problems. Born on Court Street in a home his family bought in the late 1980′s just a few blocks away from where we were meeting, he is very familiar with the Charleston community. He indicated his experience as a Director for HUD’s Columbia Field Office, in which he was significantly involved in development, including Magnolia and the Neck, would become an asset for him. He feels there is a need to overhaul the management system of the City of Charleston and to spend tax dollars on infrastructure to preserve the “flavor” of Charleston.
Marc Knapp stated he is the most qualified candidate and then raised the issue of the Fire Department. He stated his background in finance as a Stock Broker and his experience as a Contractor, which would help him in terms of financial and infrastructure insights. He focused strongly on the deaths of the Fire Fighters and felt significant changes are needed in the Department, including a new Chief.
Their opening statements were followed by an exciting “question and answer session”. The questions were submitted by Rotary members. The session resulted in a lively debate and helped all present gain a better understanding on the qualifications of the candidates. This insight will also help those in attendance make that all-important decision as to who they will support on Election Day.
Submitted by Wayne Outlaw, Keyway Commitee