A special election to fill the Charleston City Council District 1 seat vacated by Marie Delcioppo, who stepped down in October, is set for Jan. 11.
Absentee voting will begin Dec. 13. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, a runoff will be held Jan. 25.
And while some key issues facing Charleston may not have changed in the last few years — flooding, overdevelopment, rising costs of living and worsening traffic conditions — more people are coming up with new ways to tackle them.
Five candidates are currently running for the seat: Jen Gibson, Boyd Gregg, Shawn Pinkston, David Winkler and Tony Fogle. The group ranges from Lowcountry natives and political veterans to transplants and first-time candidates.
Daniel Island resident and attorney Shawn Pinkston said in his campaign announcement that the government was created to secure “our God-given rights,” and that it does so only by the consent of the community it represents.
As a military veteran and a member of local organizations like the Exchange Club of Daniel Island, the Daniel Island Community Association, Rotary Club of Daniel Island and more, he believes he has the network and experience needed to make an impact on city council.
“City council has been pushing a political agenda rather than focusing on the nuts and bolts of governing,” Pinkston said. “There have been proposals regarding critical race theory in our schools, reparations … it has taken up a lot of time … and it’s gotten away from those nuts and bolts — focusing on our roads, public safety, traffic congestion and making sure downtown is clean.
“I think that’s what the people and the residents deserve,” he said. “We can argue about political agendas, or we can focus on these issues that impact citizens on a daily basis.”
No stranger to local politics, Berkeley County Democratic Party chair Jen Gibson’s run for District 1 centers on what she says is the need for better planning and foresight from city leadership.
Gibson is already familiar with many of the items on council agendas, having worked closely with members over the last few years. But, she said, she is also familiar with the mistakes leaders have made.
“People that are making policy and creating laws really need to be thinking 20 or 30 years ahead because what is good now could be devastating years from now,” Gibson said. “Having grown up here, I’ve seen it, and I’ve seen the consequences of it.”
To her, flooding and transportation remain the greatest issues facing Charleston today.
“Even though [flooding] might not be the biggest issue in District 1 specifically, it is the No. 1 thing that’s going to affect our pocketbooks,” she said. “At the end of the day that’s what really matters.”
As a former police officer and firefighter, District 1 hopeful and Charleston native Tony Fogle said while transportation and development — issues “everyone else will talk about” — are important, public safety is the biggest concern facing the city.
“I’m not a politician — I’ve never been involved in politics before,” Fogle said. “What really urged me to run is what happened on King Street last year. It woke me up to see that it looked like the police department didn’t have the support from our leaders on council.”
Despite the lack of political experience, Fogle said he believed his 30 years in public safety makes him a prime candidate.
“We’re missing something here, and I believe it’s someone that knows a lot about public safety and who’s learned from the best of the best, and Mayor (Joe) Riley and Chief (Rueben) Greenberg were the best of the best,” he told the City Paper. “Greenberg was the biggest mentor in my life, same with Mayor Riley, and their goal was to make Charleston the best city it could be to live in.”
Newer to the Lowcountry, Daniel Island resident Daniel Winkler, who moved to Charleston in 2019, said the work on Interstate 526 and the impact it’s had on Daniel Island led him to local politics.
Prior experience as an accountant in Baton Rouge, Winkler said, will help him guide Charleston through the issues facing the community as it expands.
“There’s no getting around growth, and it’s a wonderful thing,” he said. “But the question is: How do we continue to build on the charm that is Charleston through the growth that will inevitably occur?”
Living on Daniel Island, he said, has made him much more aware of the issues that are more specific to District 1.
“Certainly out here, we are a part of the City of Charleston, but we are somewhat vastly different. We have some very good businesses located here, so we need to continue to say, ‘What do we want our community to be, and what are the challenges we have in our community?’ ”
Daniel Island resident Boyd Gregg describes himself as an infrastructure engineer, family man, entrepreneur and community volunteer. He’s a Lowcountry native who says his expertise and skill set will serve to deliver through him superior services for Charlestonians.
Gregg earned a bachelor and master of science degree in civil engineering from Clemson University. He built environmental treatment and waste-to-energy facilities throughout the nation, he says.
He now helps different municipalities overcome infrastructure challenges while remaining financially responsible.
Gregg was a candidate in Berkeley County Council District 2 in 2020 against incumbent Josh Whitley, who won reelection with 56% of the vote. During the race, Gregg called himself a “strong fiscal conservative” on social media. Infrastructure issues like flood mitigation and controlling the impact of projects like the expansion of Interstate 526 are the focus of his campaign, he previously told The Post and Courier.
Gregg did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.