With less than two weeks to go before the runoff election for the next mayor of Charleston, candidate John Tecklenburg announced a five-point pledge for his first year in office if elected.
First on the list is expanding policing and accountability strategies. Tecklenburg said that although he believes that crime statistics are headed in the right direction, the city could do a better job of building the relationships between the police department and citizens.
The candidate’s second promise is to create a West Ashley Strategic Economic Development Fund to revitalize and beautify the area.
“The city has started working on a plan like this, but we are a long way from completion, and this is reminiscent of the exact kind of work I did when I was director of economic development for the city of Charleston and we revitalized Upper King Street,” said Tecklenburg. “We can do the same thing for Sam Rittenberg Boulevard and those tired, warn-out commercial centers that are West Ashley if we improve the appearance of the public ground.”
The third and perhaps most interesting promise is the call for a one-year freeze on new hotel approvals and an effort to rezone properties like the Sergeant Jasper site to control what Tecklenburg views as over-development. Sergeant Jasper is among eight other properties located downtown that the city’s Planning Commission has recommended for rezoning to reduce height allowances and limit buildings to 55 feet. Tecklenburg believes that the moratorium on new hotels will allow more room for a wider range of businesses to enter the city.
“Knowledge-based businesses are really important to our city’s future, and if you tie up every corner with a new hotel, it really restricts the other diverse businesses that we’d like to see develop in the city,” Tecklenburg said. “I don’t want to stop anything that’s already in the works. I’m just talking about future plans and developments that have not been presented to the city yet.”
The fourth pledge is to create a citizen service desk for Charleston. Tecklenburg says the city needs a centralized phone number, such as 311 service lines found in other cities, that residents can call for non-emergency issues such as minor street repairs, waste management, and other issues that require city services.
The final part of the Tecklenburg’s plan is to require all members of his administration to file statements of economic interest, like those required from elected officials, to indicate any business relationships they might have with groups who do business with the city. In a push for greater transparency in all levels of local government, he said that all meetings by city commissions and the Board of Architectural Review should be broadcast online in the same way as City Council meetings.
Tecklenburg also took time to discuss his campaign leading into the final days of the election. According to the mayoral frontrunner, he won’t be changing strategies this late in the game.
“I certainly plan on continuing to be open and honest and be specific as possible to having a positive campaign, talking about quality-of-life issues that make Charleston the No. 1 place to live and focusing on that,” he said. “From a campaign point of view, we’re going to continue on knocking on doors, contacting voters, and spreading the word. We’re picking up supporters every day.”
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