What a difference two weeks can make. After claiming a narrow lead in the Nov. 3 general election, John Tecklenburg was elected the new mayor of Charleston Tuesday, winning by more than 3,500 votes, according to unofficial results.
Tecklenburg’s challenger, state Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, received 42 percent of votes in the runoff election. After polls closed Tuesday, Stavrinakis greeted supporters at the Historic Rice Mill building downtown and watched the results come in, but it would not be his night. Stavrinakis conceded shortly before 9 p.m. and called for all Charleston residents to stand together as the city moves forward under its first new mayor in 40 years.
“Our city is losing one of the great leaders in the history of America, and our new mayor will need every single one of us pulling in the same direction to continue to make Charleston the very best place in America to live, work, and raise a family,” said Stavrinakis.
Meanwhile, things kicked into full swing at the Charleston Marriott less than a mile away as what began as Tecklenburg’s Election Night watch party turned into a victory celebration. The mayor-elect’s supporters shouted news of the evening’s final voter tally and Stavrinakis’ concession as Tecklenburg was announced the winner.
After taking the stage to thank God, the voters, his family, his supporters, and former candidate Ginny Deerin, whose endorsement was vital to his election, Tecklenburg extended his appreciation to Stavrinakis for a well-fought campaign.
“He ran a confident and spirited campaign. He’s been a real public servant to Charleston as County Council chair and county councilman and as a member of our House of Representatives,” said Tecklenburg. “He did call me this evening on my way over here, very graciously congratulating me, and I have to tell you that we really look forward to working together, Leon and myself.”
Later in his speech, Tecklenburg focused on the quality-of-life issues that have been the cornerstone of his campaign, but he said that quality-of-life issues vary depending on where you live in the city. He stressed the importance of tourism management downtown, acknowledged that West Ashley has been ignored for too long when it comes to the city’s improvement efforts, and called for a peace treaty with the town of James Island. Tecklenburg asked for solidarity among the people of Charleston to help him address the challenges that the city faces.
“I don’t have all the answers. We need to work together as a community, collaboratively, being inclusive, to figure out our problems and move forward,” he said. “It takes all of us together, not just one person as mayor.”
Also decided in Tuesday’s runoff election were the final two City Council seats up for grabs. Unofficial results show both incumbents for Districts 1 and 3 maintaining control on council. Gary White claimed 52 percent of votes, defeating Shawn Pinkston in District 1. Longtime Councilman James Lewis Jr. was victorious over Jimmy Bailey in District 3. Lewis received 54 percent of votes to maintain his seat.
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