Another week, another set of departures and arrivals on the Charleston mayoral candidate list.
On Tuesday, commercial realtor and former City Councilman Henry Fishburne became the second candidate to drop out of the race, saying in a press release, “I am unable to devote the necessary amount of time and energy to run a successful campaign for mayor.” Another candidate, restaurateur Dick Elliott, dropped out of the race on Feb. 13 citing similar concerns.
Meanwhile, at least two potential candidates say they’ll make announcements soon.
Ginny Deerin, a founder of multiple nonprofit organizations who previously managed Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr.’s campaigns, recently filed her initial fundraising report with the State Ethics Commission, revealing that she had raised just over $33,000 for the mayoral race. Deerin, a former Sullivan’s Island resident, is now listing her home address at a West Ashley apartment complex, placing her within city limits.
“I haven’t publicly announced and don’t plan to for another several weeks,” Deerin says. “I’m in the process of putting together a strong team and strong effort to be able to announce when I’ve got things together.”
The Deerin campaign’s initial disclosure was filed nearly a month late. Under state law, candidates are required to file an initial campaign disclosure with the Ethics Commission within 10 days (plus a five-day grace period) after receiving their first $500 in contributions. Deerin crossed the $500 threshold on Jan. 13, but she did not file her report until Feb. 21.
“The delay in the filing was an administrative mistake, and as soon as we saw the mistake, we fixed it,” Deerin says. “The important thing moving forward is this campaign fully believes in transparency.” According to a representative of the Ethics Commission, the penalty for a late filing is a $100 fine.
Deerin previously made an unsuccessful run for Secretary of State in 2014 and has pushed for more women to run for office across the state through her organization, Project XX SC. If elected, Deerin would become one of only two women with a vote in city government, joining City Councilwoman Kathleen Wilson.
“I think it would be great in many ways to have a female mayor, but it’s certainly not a reason to vote for someone,” Deerin says.
Another potential contender, insurance and consulting business owner Maurice Washington, is also on the verge of making an announcement.
“I’m 100 percent sure that I will enter the race for mayor of Charleston,” Washington says. “We’re still about 30 days out from an official announcement.”
Washington, a former city councilman, previously made unsuccessful runs for the mayor’s office in 1999 and for State Senate District 42 in 2013. In the 2013 Democratic primary, which Washington lost to Marlon Kimpson, the then-chairman of the Charleston County Democratic Party sent out emails urging Democrats not to support Washington because he had previously run for office as a Republican and had contributed to Republican campaigns.
“I don’t see black or white or conservative or liberal,” Washington says. “I base my politics on what I believe is right and fair and just, and sometimes it angers liberals, sometimes it angers conservatives.”
Another potential contender is attorney and City Councilman Mike Seekings, who has been publicly considering a run since the fall of 2013. Seekings is currently navigating a heated debate over redevelopment of the Sergeant Jasper apartment site in his council district, which includes South of Broad and Harleston Village. After a particularly heated Planning Commission meeting on the topic Feb. 18, Seekings said he was still eyeing a run for the mayor’s office.
“Stay tuned,” Seekings said after the meeting. “We’ll see what happens with this. This is actually a big part of it, and we’re still looking hard at it.”
So, here’s an updated list of people who have announced their candidacy:
• William Dudley Gregorie, city councilman
• Dean C. Riegel, city councilman and senior vice president of business development at Carolina Center for Occupational Health
• Leonidas E. “Leon” Stavrinakis, state representative and attorney
• John J. Tecklenburg, commercial realtor and former city director of economic development
• Paul E. Tinkler, attorney and former city councilman
Here’s a list of people who have told the City Paper that they intend to run but have not made a formal announcement:
• Virginia “Ginny” Deerin, nonprofit founder and former campaign manager for Joseph P. Riley Jr.
• Wendell Gilliard, state representative and former union leader and city councilman
• Maurice Washington, insurance and consulting business owner, former city councilman
Here’s a list of people who say they are considering a run:
• Marc Knapp, utility contractor and perennial candidate
• Mike Seekings, attorney and city councilman
And here’s a list of people who officially announced their candidacy but later withdrew:
• Richard “Dick” Elliott, president and founder of Maverick Southern Kitchens
• Henry Fishburne, commercial realtor, developer, former city councilman
City Councilman Aubry Alexander also said in late 2014 that he was considering a run but announced early this year that he would not enter the race.
There’s still time for other candidates to enter the fray, as the filing deadline for mayoral candidates has not yet been set but will likely be in mid-August. The election to replace 40-year incumbent Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. will take place Nov. 3, with a likely runoff on Nov. 17.