NORTH CHARLESTON — During the mayoral forum, candidates took shots at the lack of transparency from the city and addressed insufficiencies in the police department in relation to violent crime.
Nine of the 10 candidates participated in the Oct. 9 forum held at Charleston Southern University. The event was part of The Post and Courier’s Palmetto Politics LIVE series sponsored by the AARP of South Carolina. It will be posted online at www.postandcourier.com.
The candidates included Reggie Burgess, former police chief; Russ Coletti, retired military and FedEx operations manager; Stephanie Ganaway-Pasley, retired judge; Rhonda Jameson Jerome, current councilwoman; Curtis Merriweather Jr., businessman; Todd Olds, former city councilman; Teddie Pryor Sr., current county council chair; John Singletary, businessman; and Jesse Williams, Charleston County board of zoning appeals member.
Samuel Whatley I was invited but did not participate in the forum.
Mayor Keith Summey, who has led the city for nearly 30 years, is not running for reelection.
In the crowded race to become the city’s fourth mayor, the candidates discussed gun violence, increasing housing costs, deficiencies in the city and the police department’s relationship with the community. Here are the main takeaways:
Addressing gun violence
Jerome, the only candidate who currently serves on city council, said it’s the mayor’s responsibility to hire a police chief who hasn’t forgotten what it is like to be a police officer. She noted that the true-crime TV show “48 Hours” is coming to North Charleston due to the high crime rate.
Burgess, however, said that is not the reason the show is filming in the city and that he helped facilitate the contract.
Burgess, who worked for the police department for 34 years before retiring as chief earlier this year, said looking at the root cause of violent crime is important, such as economics, education or lack of family structure. He added the department has been under the National Public Safety Partnership initiative with the U.S. Department of Justice since 2020 to address violent crime.