Mayor Tecklenburg makes early promises during inauguration

Ch-ch-ch-changes

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Sandy and John Tecklenburg - DUSTIN WATERS
  • Dustin Waters
  • Sandy and John Tecklenburg

There was a moment during the inauguration of John Tecklenburg as Charleston's new mayor when it finally set in that Joseph P. Riley Jr. would no longer be leading the city.

After all the fanfare, the choirs, and the applause died down, and after Tecklenburg swore his oath to the city, he stepped to the microphone to make his first speech as mayor. He thanked his family and the people of the city before turning to the man who has led Charleston for 40 years, Riley himself. By force of habit Teck called Joe “Mayor Riley” before quickly correcting himself: “Former Mayor Riley.” It was the first time anyone had every heard that phrase and it rang true. Riley was no longer mayor, but before he would take a seat in the audience next to his wife, Tecklenburg took the time to honor the man who came before him.

John Tecklenburg's inauguration ceremony began with a second line performance down Broad Street - DUSTIN WATERS
  • Dustin Waters
  • John Tecklenburg's inauguration ceremony began with a second line performance down Broad Street

“Let’s pause to recognize that our current good fortune is not some happy accident of time and place. We have not arrived at this moment by some chance. This good fortune is here and we are here in no small part to the leadership of one man, a man who has led our city with courage and grace and dignity,” Tecklenburg said. “When Joseph Patrick Riley Jr. came to the mayor’s office in 1975, Charleston was in many ways a divided city — black from white, rich from poor, yesterday from tomorrow. But thanks to his leadership, our city began coming together. For 40 years, he has led our city through triumph and tragedy.”

With the past thoroughly acknowledged, Tecklenburg began outlining the challenges that lie ahead. Remaining true to the focus of his campaign for mayor, he started by discussing quality of life.

“From traffic to tourism, from recreation to redevelopment, from public safety to public engagement and transparency, we face challenges that we can only solve by coming together around a responsible and robust plan of action,” the new mayor said before announcing that immediately following the inauguration ceremony and reception, he would convene a meeting of city officials to jump-start redevelopment and revitalization in West Ashley. “Following that meeting I will place calls to regional leaders to further our efforts to complete I-526. And in the days ahead, I will be working directly with City Council and citizens to address flooding and sea-level rise, to improve our public transit system and safety for pedestrians and cyclists, to achieve sustainable growth while respecting our environment, to improve the delivery of basic city services, to grow our knowledge-based business and technology businesses, and support small businesses, to help empower our brothers and sisters in need, including our homeless citizens.”

Former Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. took a seat in the crowd following the swearing in of John Tecklenburg as the new mayor of Charleston - DUSTIN WATERS
  • Dustin Waters
  • Former Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. took a seat in the crowd following the swearing in of John Tecklenburg as the new mayor of Charleston

During his campaign, Tecklenburg announced a five-point pledge for his first year in office if elected, and first on the list was expanding policing and accountability strategies in an effort to improve relationships between police and citizens. Other components of his five-point pledge included a one-year moratorium on new hotels on the peninsula, which gained approval from those well-versed in the city’s hospitality industry, as well as the creation of a citizens’ service desk to address the non-emergency concerns of citizens and a plan to require all members of his administration to file statements of economic interest.

“Let us challenge ourselves this day to accept any test or trial and respond with excellence and enlightenment, to be open and inclusive, to show that good citizens working together collaboratively can tackle any challenge,” said Tecklenburg, “to show that with faith in God and love in our hearts that we will be an example to the world, not just in the wake of tragedy as Charleston has already done so beautifully, but in our actions going forward.”


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