N. Charleston mayoral candidates debate in forum

Published: Oct. 12, 2011 at 1:38 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 12, 2011 at 1:33 PM EDT
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A face-off Tuesday night between the two candidates running for mayor of North Charleston.

About a hundred people gathered at the Northwoods Park Community Center in North Charleston to hear from the candidates.

Some said they support Mayor Keith Summey and his track record for improving the city.

Others said it's time to give someone else a chance, and plan to vote for Charleston County school board member Chris Collins.

Summey has spent nearly 17 years as mayor, and he said during this time, the city has seen many positive changes.

"I think we have an obligation to try to leave our community a better place than it was when we found it," Summey said.

Summey said about 6,000 new jobs have come to the area, and there's been over a billion dollars in economic development in just the past four years.

Collins acknowledges this improvement, but said there's still a lot of work to be done, especially in low income parts of the city.

"I see the need in poor neighborhoods where homes need to be rehabilitated...We've got a lot of room for improvement, especially in the southern part of the city,"

Collins said he agrees with Mayor Summey's plan to revitalize Shipwatch Square, but said more projects like this need to be done to bring life back to the southern part of the city.

He also said another goal of his is to make sure people aren't overly ticketed or pursued by police.

"In some of our poor neighborhoods, we get complaints that the cops have been a little too aggressive," Collins said.

But Summey said police have worked hard to reduce crime.

"We've curbed the crime rate considerably, homicides are down dramatically, and we just want to continue in the same vein moving forward," Summey said.

Mayor Summey said if re-elected, he has plans to upgrade many community centers, athletic facilities and fire stations. He also plans to settle the lawsuit against allowing rail to come through the northern part of the city.

Collins said if he's elected, he plans to improve education in North Charleston, and wants to build a business development center to teach people how to open their own businesses in hopes of stimulating the economy.

The election is November 8.

Copyright WCSC 2011. All rights reserved.