[image-1] Mike Seekings has joined the race for mayor of Charleston, becoming the third city councilman to throw his hat in the ring for the job this year.
“Our city is undergoing fast change and we face big challenges,” Seekings said in a statement. “Whether it’s flooding, traffic or rampant growth, Charlestonians deserve a mayor with a plan for action and the ability to get things done.”
“We all know these issues are not solving themselves, and the people of our city are tired of waiting for our current mayor to produce results,” he added.
Seekings, a 59-year-old construction attorney, is serving his third term on City Council, where he represents parts of the Charleston peninsula below Calhoun Street, including the affluent South of Broad neighborhood. He is also the chairman of the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority, the region’s public transit system.
Thursday’s announcement ended months of speculation that Seekings would join the race.
Councilman Gary White, who represents parts of Daniel Island and the peninsula, announced in March that he would not seek re-election to Council in order to run for mayor. He was joined by six current and former city council members.
“The fire in his belly and how he has represented that district, I feel that would be a very good application to the city as a whole,” said Councilman William Dudley Gregorie, one of White’s supporters, in an interview with the City Paper. “He did head our budget committee this last time, and the budget that committee came up with is the budget that was passed unanimously by city council. The mayor’s budget was not passed.”
White’s budget, which included a property tax increase of about $2.5 million, was actually formally opposed by one Council member: Seekings.
Mayor John Tecklenburg’s first term has been plagued by a perception that his administration lacks a cohesive plan to tackle issues like flooding, transportation, and hotelification.
In an interview with the City Paper, Seekings called the mayorship the most important political job in South Carolina, and one that requires leadership on critical issues.
“We need action. If we don’t change leadership, will anything change over the next four years?” he asked. “No more studies. No more excuses. We have to get caught up and ahead of the infrastructure issues that confront us every single day.”
He cites the Crosstown drainage project, which is $43 million over budget, as a mismanaged project from an administration that is “afraid to make mistakes.” Work on the Church Creek drainage basin and the Calhoun West drainage improvement project should be accelerated, he says.
“These are all things we have to do now,” he said. “Those things should be underway.”
Councilman Harry Griffin, who represents parts of West Ashley, also announced his bid for mayor in March. The 24-year-old became the youngest councilman in living memory in upon his election in 2017, according to the city. Also running for mayor is Will Freeman, a College of Charleston administrative assistant who ran unsuccessfully for a state House seat as a Republican last year.
A press release announcing Seekings’ candidacy lists Tyler Jones as a media contact. Jones served as a consultant for Congressman Joe Cunningham’s successful congressional bid last year.
Tecklenburg has raised the most money of any candidate so far. His contributions for this year’s race total 522,533, according to his latest filing with the State Ethics Commission. He’s followed by White, who has raised $68,755, including a $40,000 loan to himself. Griffin has raised a total of $5,370.
Charleston residents will choose their next mayor on Nov. 5. Candidates must officially file to run starting on Aug. 5.