“Leave it better than you found it” is a mantra that Mayor John Tecklenburg got from his father, and he has applied it to his leadership style and the approach that he takes to governing Charleston.
Mayor Tecklenburg spoke to 70 members and guests at the most recent meeting of the Exchange Club of Kiawah-Seabrook. His commitment to improving our community was clear throughout his speech, and he addressed several concerns of the city at large, and also those issues specific to our community. The mayor said that his number one job is public safety, that it’s not possible to pursue the tenets of the Declaration of Independence, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, if people don’t feel safe. With his “number one job” being public safety, Mayor Tecklenburg mourned the recent death of Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds. He’s proud that the city has a full compliment of firefighters for the first time in several years and that all property taxes fully cover the expense of police and fire in Charleston.
The mayor also addressed the impact of climate change on the city, saying that there have been seven hurricanes since he was elected. He stated that “Water is an existential threat to the city”, the harbor water level is fourteen inches higher than 100 years ago and the rate of increase has quadrupled. Now, he expects that the water level will raise another foot by 2050. His administration is working to minimize the impact of rising water, and he cited the massive drainage tunnel under Septima Clark Parkway as one of the most important steps that the city has taken to mitigate flooding.
The mayor said that “we’re dealing with the challenges of success” when he spoke of the traffic issues on Johns Island. He is committed to adding additional traffic lanes between Maybank and River Road and the bridge to James Island. He also discussed the “pitchfork”, the addition of two exits on Maybank to divert traffic to River Road in order to lessen the traffic at the Maybank and River Road intersection. Work has begun on the northern fork, and negotiations are underway to secure the land for the southern fork.
He also discussed the area economy and the impact that was felt when the Navy base closed, and twenty-five thousand jobs disappeared almost immediately. He said there are five priorities that have made the area economy so robust; tourism, which is responsible for 51 thousand jobs in the city; life sciences led by MUSC; Logistics, Charleston has the deepest harbor on the east coast; Technology, Charleston’s Digital Corridor is growing quickly; and manufacturing with the arrival of Boeing, Volvo and Mercedes to the area.
The Mayor’s focus on “common sense, practical things” resonated with club membership and his optimism and enthusiasm for the city was apparent throughout his speech.
-Submitted by Thad Peterson for the Exchange Club of Kiawah-Seabrook