Two memorable questions and answers from the mayoral forum

Editor’s Note: The Daniel island News hosted a mayoral forum with the six candidates on September 17. The City of Charleston Mayoral Election will be held on November 3. To help readers decide on how they will vote, The Daniel Island News will run questions from the forum along with answers from the candidates in the next several editions of the paper. Comments have been edited in some cases for space. Q: If your mother were here with us tonight, how would she describe you and would you agree with her description? Leon Stavrinakis: “I miss my mom dearly. If she were here tonight, I would hope she would say I learned things that she tried to teach me, to be humble and work hard to serve our community…She always wanted me to be a lawyer, which I’m doing, and she always wanted me to be in public service, which I’m doing. So I hope she’d be proud of me… She (also) always wanted me to behave with integrity, and I think that I’ve done that. I try to do that every day and I hope that I live up to the standards that she set for me. I know that she’s watching me every day.” Ginny Deerin: My mother’s name was Lucy Lewis, my daughter’s name is Lucy, and she grew up in Charleston and was a journalist and she was also an artist. And I think the ways that she would describe me are probably two things - one I’m very scrappy…I get stuff done, make it happen. Not necessarily with a lot of formal training. The other thing I think she would say, if I heard it once I heard it a million times, ‘Bossy girls don’t have friends!’ I have a lot of friends, many of them are here. But…I think she was trying to give me the message that I am a real leader, not bossy, but a leader.” William Dudley Gregorie: “…What she would tell me is go as high as you can go. I know just based on continually interacting with her that she would be pleased. The greatest lesson that my mother taught me was never to hate because once you hate you lose. And that was a part of what got me through the tragedy on June 17. Not to hate, but to love, and start the healing process. I love Mom and I’m glad she’s still here. …She has many more lessons to teach me.” John Tecklenburg: “…I think she would say that I’m appreciative… and I think she would probably share with you that I am a caring and compassionate person. And I thank her for that, because it was her example of giving back to the community and church work and civic work that was a real role model to me growing up…She’s a great lady and I tried to live out that caring and compassionate example in my adult life by my non-profit help to the homeless shelter that I was president of to founding South Carolina Strong, which helps offenders after they get out of prison to start a new life… and my involvement in many other civic organizations.” Maurice Washington: “I lost Mom in 1995. (She was) my hero, my role model, a lady who raised 10 kids literally on her own. I think she would describe me as being spoiled, but that’s hard to believe given that I’m the 9th of the 10. But yet determined, hard-headed, but driven and focused and how can I not be watching her over many, many years. We grew up in Gadsden’s Green public housing across form a public housing dump site and she convinced all 10 of us that it was treasure island as opposed to a landfill, and we bought into it. She was a remarkable lady.” Toby Smith: “I wish my mother were here tonight. She hasn’t been able to go many events with me. She’s taking care of my grandma, who is 93. She would say I have a strong work ethic, that I love the Lord with all my heart, that I’m a good (aunt) to my little girls, that I’m a little bit crazy and that I should stop dancing down the aisles at Publix, that I shouldn’t be afraid to try new things, to be a conqueror and don’t be afraid to stand alone. That’s something that she taught me early on. And I think she would be very proud…What she says is you know I’m in your heart, do the right thing, be kind to people and everything always works out. I love her so very much.” Q: What’s the biggest threat to the City of Charleston and what specific steps would you take to minimize that threat? John Tecklenburg: In Charleston today, in order to preserve this special place that we have, I think one of our biggest threats is growth and over-development… Forty-two folks a day are moving to the Charleston region, but I think we need to think more about quality than about quantity. Zoning is the underlying thing that controls how much you can build where, so in the first year one of the things I want to do as Mayor is have a review of zoning versus our community plan, our Century V Plan, and make sure we’re in sync with growth going forward in the density and the appropriate places that it should be.” Leon Stavrinakis: “I agree that the biggest threat facing Charleston is the loss of our incredible quality of life through failure to properly manage growth. We need to manage it and not kill it because quality of life starts with prosperity and safety and we need to make sure we have a leader who has not just a plan but the know-how and the experience and the proven record of doing both, managing growth and producing results for infrastructure…I’ve passed a comprehensive growth management plan as a member of County Council. I’ve funded infrastructure projects, I’ve funded transit in this community and I have the relationships and the know-how and the proven record to do both.” Toby Smith: “I disagree slightly with my colleagues. The biggest challenge for me is gentrification and the loss of black culture and population on the peninsula and surrounding areas. We all know the history of this area was built on the backs of black people. And the legacy of my ancestors rests on my heart. It’s what inspires me. It’s what motivates me. People come to Charleston to enjoy our culture, it’s a shared culture and I’m hoping and praying that we don’t lose that, because if we lose that, we’ll just become another nice place to go for a vacation.” Maurice Washington: “I would say the biggest threat is the quality of our education system. Everything rests on education - economic development, quality of life, livability of the neighborhood. It’s everybody’s business. Of the 217 high schools in the state of South Carolina, the worst performing six are right here in Charleston County…that’s unacceptable. Equally disturbing is the fact that those kids come from households on average with a 96% poverty rate. Education impacts everything.” Ginny Deerin: “We’ve got many, many threats and challenges, and huge opportunities. When a dad leaves the office an hour and 15 minutes (early) to get to his daughter’s closing camp session at James Island County Park when it should be a 12 minute ride and he gets there when they are packing up and turning off the lights, we’ve got a real problem. To me, I would say traffic. Traffic is just a huge threat and I come at it from a comprehensive view. I believe we can build a world class transportation system. And how I differ from my colleagues, or most of them, I believe if you look around the United States, there are funding strategies to take care of that and to get the job done.” William Dudley Gregorie: “I believe the biggest threat…is education. A world class city deserves a world class education system. The only way that we can really deal with choice is to make sure all of our schools are class A schools. Where I differ with some of my other colleagues is that they’ve done great plans, but we have great plans. As a sitting City Council member, I’ve been part of developing plans. The bigger issue for us, especially on the transportation front, is getting the money to do it…For instance, having a train coming from Summerville to downtown, we’re talking about $45 million. Watch it folks. Let’s make sure that the folks that have these plans aren’t getting ready to tax us right out of the place.”

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