Some thoughts on the Mayoral candidates' strengths
Last Thursday, The Daniel Island News, with the support of the Daniel Island Neighborhood Association and the Huger-Wando Community Development Corporation, held a City of Charleston Mayoral Forum at Bishop England High School with the six candidates running to replace Mayor Riley.
The Forum was attended by well over 125 residents. It was held on the heels of the Republican Presidential Debate and on the heels of my hearing a BBC radio report on the British Parliamentary system and the use of the Prime Minister Question Time (PMQ). It seems that several Members of Parliament favor more decorum during the PMQ.
If you’ve never seen the PMQ, it is very entertaining and, at times, raucous and witty. It also includes, at times, very deep discussion of issues in a robust manner. In the report, an American commentator cautioned against turning the PMQ into a falsely civil exchange, as done in the U.S. Senate, which he noted essentially moves the discussion of issues from the public forum to the back room.
My impression of the Mayoral Forum was that it did not disintegrate to name calling as the Republican Presidential Debate started out and as is often the case during the PMQ, and, while the candidates were polite, there was indeed a vigorous discussion of the issues, which is the heart of the PMQ.
Indeed, the candidates all carried and presented themselves in a manner that the Presidential candidates, the U.S. Senate and the PMQ could emulate.
I also offer these short comments on what I observed to be the strengths of each of the candidates:
Toby Smith: An impressive, compassionate speaker who comes to the election with an important message and delivers it with a heart of gold, her campaign serves as a reminder that we can all make a difference. Smith has started a needed conversation in the election regarding race relations and preserving local heritage.
Ginny Deerin: While most everyone at the forum was well over the age of 50, with a few exceptions, Deerin brought a strong showing of campaign support from the twenty-something crowd. That she could motivate and organize young people to participate in a city election is inspiring and demonstrates she possesses strong leadership skills.
Maurice Washington: His bottom up, servant-leader style is refreshing. His commitment to education and business development is evident and he communicates in an engaging and forthright manner.
John Tecklenburg: He demonstrated a strong understanding of the role of city government. While some other candidates were stressing regional plans relating to functions performed mostly by other levels of government (highways and education), Tecklenburg stressed the importance of efficiency in city functions.
William Dudley Gregorie: He understands the importance of working with City Council, stressing that it takes seven votes, not one, to pass legislation in the City. He welcomed opportunities to stress his differences from the other candidates, indicating a leader who is willing to face conflict.
Leon Stavrinakis: He highlighted his experience and success as a state legislator and as a member of Charleston County Council, which demonstrates his ability to work with regional leaders to get projects funded and completed.