Burgess announces bid for North Charleston mayor

A day after announcing he would retire as North Charleston Police chief effective on May 1, Reggie Burgess has confirmed he will enter the mayor’s race.
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 8:22 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 25, 2023 at 5:27 AM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A day after announcing he would retire as North Charleston Police chief effective on May 1, Reggie Burgess has confirmed he will enter the mayor’s race.

Burgess made the announcement Friday morning.

“Today I am here to tell you that I am running today, tomorrow, and every day from now until Nov. 7 to earn your vote so that I may become the next mayor of the city of North Charleston. Over the past couple of years, my role in the next phase of my life began to become clearer,” he said in a statement. “I knew that when the time was right and Mayor Summey had completed his service as Mayor of North Charleston, my thoughts and vision would become reality. I am excited about this challenge and opportunity to serve the people of North Charleston as their next mayor.”

The North Charleston native has served with the North Charleston Police Department for 34 years. He was named the chief of the agency in 2018.

As police chief, Burgess manages a budget of more than $40 million and team of more than 400 sworn officers and unsworn civilians. During his time as chief, he launched several programs that earned national attention, including the “Stop the Violence” walks through crime-ridden neighborhoods, the Cops Athletic Program, which offers free, organized youth sports programs in basketball, soccer, baseball, powder puff football, spelling bee, lacrosse, hockey, dodgeball, and kickball; and the “Baby Changes Everything” program to reduce infant rollover deaths.

Incumbent Mayor Keith Summey announced on March 10 he would not seek an eighth term in office. He called his time as mayor “the privilege of a lifetime” and said he is proud of what “we have accomplished together.”

Burgess reacted to Summey’s announcement with a statement that read in part, “I consider Mayor Summey a dear friend and I wish him well in his much-deserved and well-earned retirement from a life of public service.”

Days after announcing he would not seek reelection, Summey suggested that Burgess as the person he would like to see as the next mayor.

“He’s been able to cross boundaries of dealing with folks in the communities, whether they be traditionally white neighborhoods, traditionally Black neighborhoods,” Summey said of Burgess. “He has the respect, I think, of the majority of the people in every community in the city. It has nothing to do with his color. It has to do with his ability to lead and his attitude. He has a great personal attitude in the way he communicates with people.”

Burgess will face competition in the mayor’s race from North Charleston Councilwoman Rhonda Jerome. Also a North Charleston native, Jerome announced her candidacy before Summey confirmed he would not seek another term in office.

Jerome took part in an effort to tour several Charleston County School District schools in the North Charleton area to call out what the city sees as disparities beteween schools there and in other places around Charleston County including Mount Pleasant.

Jerome lists education and tackling crime as her biggest concerns. She sent this statement in respond to Burgess’ announcement:

The citizens of North Charleston should be proud to have two candidates that believe in North Charleston and the communities within. I look forward to seeing him on the campaign trail. May the best person prevail.