I have been trying to pay more attention to what’s going on in the North Charleston community since the beginning of the mayoral election cycle earlier this year. One of the things that has really dominated my perception is that our mayor for 23 years, Mayor R. Keith Summey, appears, on the surface, to have done a poor job of communicating with the residents of North Charleston and hasn’t really laid out a vision for the community. I sat here for the better part of Saturday morning into the afternoon typing up a blog about exactly that and was prepared to completely eviscerate him and his campaign for their continued silence on their vision for the future.
With a mere passing glance, it’s beyond any shadow of a doubt that Mayor Summey’s campaign staff has done a woeful job of positioning the incumbent mayor for positive public viewing. Their website, keithsummey.org, has approximately one video, a little over two minutes in length, which touts a small number of accomplishments during his long tenure as North Charleston’s chief elected official. The rest of the site is dedicated to two things; encouraging people to donate to the campaign and signing up for the newsletter. I signed up for the newsletter in July. I expected that once we got into the 90-day window for the election, I’d start seeing more proactive communication. With 66 days remaining until the election, I haven’t received one piece of proactive communication from the campaign at all. After having asked 4 times on their Facebook page located at https://www.facebook.com/keithsummeyformayor and twice through the messaging system on keithsummey.org, I have yet to see a campaign platform posted to their campaign website. I’ve only seen posts soliciting support for his re-election bid. This set me on a path to begin digging. As I started digging for articles and media, I found that I had simply been looking in the wrong places.
If one really wants to learn more about Mayor Summey and what he has done for the City of North Charleston, one can’t really rely on the archives of the Charleston Post and Courier, the Charleston City Paper or the local television news archives. All these agencies, like many others in the country these days, only report things that will garner them increased viewership and ad revenue. To really get the scoop on what’s going on, one must seek out the media resources that the City of North Charleston provides.
The city recently redesigned their website, http://www.northcharleston.org/. There is only one word to describe it. Perfect. It offers in one centralized location, anything you might wish to know about any department or office within the department, including the Office of Mayor. Moreover, the City of North Charleston has a YouTube Channel which is chock full of informational videos including the broadcast of every single city council meeting held recently. I think I got the most information out of the Mayor’s State of the City Address which was posted in January 2015.
Here’s the thing though. I think it can safely be said that either North Charleston residents don’t know that this stuff is there or they don’t care. The State of the City video has just under 900 views. The vast majority of content on the YouTube site have under 100 views. Since this video was produced well before the Walter Scott incident, it is packed full of reports from each one of the Mayor’s executive departments and gives a clear vision of where North Charleston has been and implies where it’s going. I wonder why the campaign has not made use of this material. I would think that the campaign would want to be focused on something other than Michael Slagel and the perceived failings of the NCPD.
Based on the State of the City address and a great deal of information presented to me on the City of North Charleston website, I am reasonably sure that I’ll cast a vote to re-elect Mayor Summey for a 6th term as the Mayor of North Charleston. I have to say though, that as a North Charleston resident for just under three years, I feel like I shouldn’t have had to dig hard to find information. His campaign clearly has not done enough to reach out to new residents and would-be residents of the city. It feels as if they are just assuming that they will win the election based on popularity and longevity, which he absolutely will. Mayor’s Summey’s only two challengers come in the form of a church pastor and a local business man, neither of whom have any real civic experience to speak of, muchless the qualifications to lead a city of over 95,000 residents.
Be that as it may though, I would hope that Mayor Summey and his staff would take a more proactive path of engaging the electorate. It seems sophomoric and makes me question whether or not the Mayor’s finger is truly on the pulse of the community. I’m also sad for the electorate. There’s information out there that they clearly aren’t looking at. As stated in the previous paragraph, North Charleston is a city of over 95,000 residents. The YouTube videos get less than 1000 views, many of them less than 100. How engaged are the residents of North Charleston? Does anyone really want to make this town, incorporated for less than 45 years, a great place to live work and play as our motto suggests?
Because the campaign likely won’t ever do it, I’ve taken the liberty posting links to items other than the Mayor’s re-election website and Facebook page. To get an idea of what’s going on, one must also visit those sites as well. Because I would like for the public to be as informed as possible, I’m also posting links to the information for his challengers in this election. I would encourage each and every citizen of North Charleston to educate themselves on who and what they are voting for on Tuesday, November 3th.
Links to Resources:
Summey For Mayor website: http://keithsummey.com/
Summey for Mayor Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/keithsummeyformayor
Mayor Summey’s Personal Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MayorSummey
Mayor Summey’s Twitter Account: https://twitter.com/MayorSummey
Office of the Mayor: http://www.northcharleston.org/Government/Office-of-the-Mayor.aspx
John Singletary for Mayor: http://www.johnsingletary.com/
Chris Collins for Mayor YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkcR6gbNAzpNGQNtDQoOzTw/videos