Charleston to pick first new mayor in four decades

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 17, 2015 12:20 PM

By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Voters in Charleston went to the polls on Tuesday to choose the first new mayor in 40 years for the historic South Carolina city, which is still coping with the massacre of nine black people this past summer at one of its oldest churches.

The runoff election features the top two vote-getters from a crowded contest between six candidates in the general election on Nov. 3. State Representative Leon Stavrinakis and businessman John Tecklenburg, both white, emerged from a field that had included three black candidates.

The race for mayor in Charleston, a city of 130,000 people, is nonpartisan.

Mayor Joe Riley is retiring after an unprecedented 10 terms as the city's leader. First elected in 1975, Riley has been widely praised for his efforts to turn Charleston into a top tourist attraction known for its restaurants, arts and architecture.

The Democrat, also white, has made racial integration a top priority during his tenure.

He did not endorse any candidates in the race to succeed him.

The mayoral contestants twice halted their campaigns this year after an accused white gunman opened fire in June on black parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church during a Bible study and record-breaking floods ravaged the city and state in October.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Lisa Von Ahn)