[image-1]On Monday afternoon, mayoral candidate Leon Stavrinakis said something that is very true. During a press conference that was announced to discuss “an important issue in the Charleston mayoral election,” Stavrinakis made a point early on that all voters should remember.
“As we approach Election Day, it’s more important than ever that the voters of the city of Charleston have the opportunity to know where the two mayoral candidates stand on important issues,” he said, “and it’s more important than ever that they know where the distinctions lie between the two candidates.”
Recognizing that he’s reached a critical time in his campaign, Stavrinakis chose to talk about what he believes to be one of the biggest issues separating himself and fellow candidate John Tecklenburg: the proposed pedestrian/bike lane on the T. Allen Legare Bridge crossing the Ashley River into downtown.
As he has mentioned numerous times before, Stavrinakis is completely opposed to shutting down one lane of the bridge to automobiles, and says that if elected mayor, he will fight to make sure it never happens. Stavrinakis called the plan, which was approved by City Council in February 2014, an “ill-conceived idea” that would increase commute times for those crossing the bridge.
“My opponent on the other hand has said on at least two occasions that he would support this idea even if it increased commute times for people heading into downtown Charleston,” he said. “Voters could not have a more clear point of contrast between their two candidates and how serious they are of addressing the effects of growth and development, of addressing the problems of traffic congestion facing residents mainly in West Ashley, James Island, and Johns Island.”
A study funded by Charleston County found that restricting the lane to bike and pedestrian travel would cause an additional average delay of seven seconds for drivers entering downtown from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., but wouldn’t have a noticeable effect during the rest of the day. The county plans to test these findings in February by closing the lane to traffic for as long as 45 days to measure the real-world impact of the proposed bike lane. Stavrinakis said he does not support the testing and believes the estimates from the previous study “defy logic and common sense.”
Unwilling to be led by his “common sense” alone, Tecklenburg said during his own press conference later that day that he supports testing the proposed bike lane’s effect on traffic.
Also during that press conference, Tecklenburg announced the specifics of his five-point ethics plan.
If elected, Tecklenburg says he will require that all senior government staff agree to not work for any company doing business with city government for at least one year after leaving office.
John Crangle of Common Cause South Carolina, a nonpartisan political watchdog organization, endorsed the plan, saying, “This is not a new idea, but it’s a good idea and one that needs to be implemented at the state level and at the local level as well to prevent government employees from basically having dual loyalties or conflict of interest where they help out a private employer and then they go to work for the private employer.”
Tecklenburg’s ethics plan would also require that the mayor and all senior appointed staff release statements of economic interest annually that include their personal tax returns. He proposes a full registry of city finances be available online, as well as listings of all city employees’ salaries and benefits.
“Given the lax laws that we have in South Carolina regarding ethics accountability, I feel it’s time to raise the bar for the city of Charleston in ethics accountability and be an example to the rest of the state and to our state government particularly in how disclosure and accountability and transparency should be an everyday part of government at every level,” said Tecklenburg.