Name: Shawn Pinkston
Party: Nonpartisan
Office: Charleston City Council, District 1 (special election)


1. Why are you running?

Charleston is heading in the wrong direction. We experienced destructive riots and increased crime, yet there are calls to reallocate police funding. Our roads are full of potholes and downtown floods with any high tide or heavy rainfall, yet we increased spending and raised property taxes rather than investing in infrastructure. District 1 needs a strong advocate who possesses knowledge of the important issues, will focus on core city functions, and will push back on divisive political agendas.

2. What do you expect to accomplish if elected? 

Return the focus to core city services rather than debating divisive political agendas. Let’s repave our roads that are full of potholes, replace bridges that are structurally unsound, promote public safety by putting more police offices on the streets and building new fire stations in rapidly developing areas, make sure downtown has more public trash receptacles so our streets and sidewalks are not cluttered with litter, and address flooding by discussing the ideas contained in the City Plan and the Dutch Dialogues.

3. What distinguishes your candidacy?

My background has prepared me to be an active and engaged member of city council from day one. My community involvement does not revolve around politics and has been a lifelong focus. I am involved in numerous charitable and civic organizations whose goals are to improve our community. Having worked downtown, I experienced firsthand the issues important to residents:  flooding, traffic, tourism, and cruise ships. I am a veteran, a former prosecutor, and a lawyer. I stand up for what I believe in, I fight for what is right, and I do not retreat in the face of opposition.

4. Describe how the impact of climate change in the Charleston area would affect your work if elected.

Flooding has been occurring in downtown for decades and has impacted residents and businesses throughout Charleston. We should focus on ways to address the immediate flooding rather than debating climate change and its potential impact. Regardless of personal opinions on climate change, the flooding in downtown and other parts of our city has to be addressed. The Dutch Dialogues contains numerous recommendations that ought to be implemented, including the strategic use of semi-pervious materials and infiltration systems, elevating critical low-level spots as part of street rebuilding and repaving programs, ending fill and build, and focusing on storm-water drainage maintenance.

5. Pick an issue you believe has not been adequately addressed by local government. Describe solutions you will pursue if elected.

Basic infrastructure needs on Daniel Island and along Clements Ferry have been ignored. Our roads are full of potholes and have not been repaved since initial construction. A bridge has been structurally unsound for three years with construction months away. Road markings and crosswalks have faded and are not visible at night. I support a bike/pedestrian path along Daniel Island Drive and Clements Ferry Road. The city has approved construction in flood-prone areas and has yet to ban fill and build, which contributes to flooding.

6. Pick one urgent issue currently facing the office you are seeking (different from questions 4 and 5) and describe how you would address it.

Public safety. Crime is up throughout the city and we need more police officers on the street. There are already dozens of unfilled positions within our police department and the Mayor’s vaccination mandate will lead to officers being terminated. I urge the Mayor to rescind the vaccine mandate so first responders do not have to choose between their livelihood or their liberty. Additionally, experienced officers are leaving CPD and many are getting out of law enforcement altogether. Police officers are the front line in the fight against crime – they deserve our respect and our unwavering support.

7. Do you pledge to work with other council members to move forward collaboratively and to reduce partisanized bickering? How will you accomplish this?

Yes, I will work collaboratively with other members of council on accomplishing basic core functions of City Government. The current partisanized bickering is due to a political agenda being pushed by the Mayor and other members of Council. The easiest way to avoid this bickering is to focus on basic city services – public safety, drainage projects, repaving roads, replacing unsafe bridges, litter is properly disposed of, the garbage is picked up on time – rather than divisive political agendas.

8. Please give a 150-word summary of your background.

  • Married to Andrea and father to four children
  • Bachelor of Arts in History from Berea College
  • JD from Saint Louis University School of Law
  • Prior to law school, worked as Communications Director for a member of the United States House of Representatives and in same capacity for the President of the Kentucky State Senate
  • Veteran of the United States Army and the Iraq War
  • Served in the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps and successfully prosecuted multiple cases against sexual predators
  • Appointed to the Fort Stewart Sexual Assault Victims Advocacy Board
  • Attained rank of Captain and received Honorable Discharge in 2008
  • Owner, Veteran Owned Small Business that provides medical equipment to fellow veterans
  • Member of Exchange Club Daniel Island
  • Member of Exchange Club Charleston, Past Member
  • Daniel Island Community Association, Past Board Member
  • Daniel Island Neighborhood Association, Past Vice President
  • Rotary Club Daniel Island, Past Member