GOOSE CREEK, SC (WCSC) - For the first time in 16 years, Goose Creek's sitting mayor has a challenger. City council member Jerry Tekac is running against Mayor Michael Heitzler in Tuesday's election. At a heated mayoral forum Thursday night, Heitzler and Tekac went back and forth
"Challenged elections are essential for the well-being of the community," says Heitzler. You got to have them every four years"
"I was expecting it, and I was ready for it," says Tekac. "Again, I respect Mike a great deal. He's done wonderful things for our city."
Voters packed the room inside the Berkeley Electric Office to hear both sides. The Mayor and Tekac say they both want to bring more business in, but their strategies are different. Tekac says he wants to go out and recruit businesses, whereas the Mayor believes the businesses will come to Goose Creek.
"We have been left behind." says Tekac. "Look at the town of Summerville, look at the City of North Charleston, Mt. Pleasant even. Those towns are booming, businesses are moving there, and when businesses are thinking of re-locating, they're not even thinking of Goose Creek. We're basically irrelevant."
"People come to your city to open up a business if they think they can make money by having the infrastructure there, having inexpensive services at low taxes, a safe community," says Heitzler. "That will bring your businesses in and they're coming."
Tekac says recruited businesses would generate tax revenue for Goose Creek. Otherwise, he says, the money will have to come from the voters' pockets.
"The Mayor has always run on no increase of personal property taxes for 35 years, and I understand that, but sometimes you got to do what you got to do in order to get what you need to get done," says Steve Huch, a voter.
Others want to see more businesses develop a foothold in the city.
"I have a deep respect for both of the gentleman," says voter Joel Arenson. "I think something does have to be done to try to bring in more businesses into the Goose Creek area, and I'm not talking about necessarily restaurants. I'm talking about maybe office buildings, some businesses that would support Boeing, other companies like that."