Three candidates for Charleston City Council appear to be backed by the local chapter of national right-wing political group Moms For Liberty, which previously supported several winning candidates for the Charleston County School Board in 2022.
Three city council candidates — District 3’s Jim McBride, District 5’s Ron Call and District 9’s Mike Gastin received contributions worth a total of $5,000 from a pair of donors who also gave to school board candidates backed last year by Moms For Liberty, according to an analysis of campaign disclosure reports from the S.C. South Carolina Ethics Commission (SCEC).
Gastin said he and his wife are involved with the local chapter of Moms For Liberty, but that he has not received any money from the organization directly, nor had he had any meetings or discussions with the group personally.
“I would suspect that based on values, they would appreciate some of my goals,” he said.
Call declined to comment on any support he has received from the political group, and McBride did not respond to requests for comment.
Council candidates focus on growth, development
Two of the three candidates are running for seats with no incumbent. In District 3, Jason Sakran gave up his seat in a redistricting proposal to allow Johns Island to have its own representative for the first time. In West Ashley’s District 9, incumbent Peter Shahid is running for mayor, leaving his council seat open. And the election field is packed.
“You have to wonder sometimes, when you have such a packed field, why would someone throw their hat into the ring in the first place,” Gastin said. “But when I looked at the other candidates, I bring something to the table that maybe they don’t — a lifelong history in business and entrepreneurship in the private industry.”
In the new District 3, McBride is running against Bill Antonucci and Stephanie Hodges.
In District 5, which also covers outer West Ashley, Call is running against incumbent Karl Brady and Tarah Swetman. Call is a retired chemical and environmental engineer who lives in West Ashley. He holds more than 20 patents for developing lithium-ion battery technology. He said he wants to make managing growth and infrastructure improvements his top priority if elected.
“I believe the city of Charleston can better manage how it grows as a community,” Call said. “Traffic congestion must be addressed. A thriving city should offer better opportunities for bicyclists and for pedestrians as well.
“We are continually putting high density development in random places because of a lack of planning,” he added. “We must build infrastructure before we continue to push higher density further out of the urban core.”
In District 9, which predominantly covers the Northbridge area of West Ashley, Gastin is running against Francis Marion Beylotte III, William Gilliard, Kenneth Marolda and William Tinkler. Gastin, a self-proclaimed transplant who has spent the majority of his professional career in marketing, says he is not trying to make a political career out of his bid, but wanted to target specific problems facing the local area.
The city of Charleston municipal general election is set for Nov. 7.
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