Thursday, February 6, 2014
Goose Creek City Councilmember Jerry Tekac will be running against incumbent Mayor Michael Heitzler in this year’s mayoral election.
So far no other candidates have filed, according to Berkeley County Elections and Voter Registration Director Adam Hammons. The filing deadline is at Noon on Friday.
So far Mayor Pro-Tem Kimo Esarey, Councilmember Mark Phillips and newcomer Debra Green-Fletcher have filed for the three council seats available, Hammons said.
Longtime Councilmember Marguerite Brown has not filed for re-election.
Tekac spoke to The Gazette by phone on Thursday.
“I always envisioned myself as the mayor,” Tekac said. “I believe at this point in time the city needs to move forward. We need to provide a more business friendly environment.”
He said the mayors of neighboring municipalities such as Keith Summey of North Charleston, Bill Collins of Summerville and Joe Riley of Charleston are promoting their cities and Goose Creek needs do that more aggressively.
“We have 4,200 homes coming just in Carnes Crossroads,” Tekac said. “We can’t (limit) the services we need to just building houses.
“I thought it was time for a businessman to take a run at the mayor. It’s obviously a great place to raise a family. We need to add on to that and make it a great place to work and I hope to do that.”
He said he started having serious discussions about running for mayor in August, but has always considered it in the back of his mind.
“I felt it was time,” Tekac said. “The feedback I’m getting is very positive. I believe our citizens deserve a choice.”
He added he has nothing negative to say about Heitzler and the city staff, who have done a great job making Goose Creek a great place to live.
“When we become large enough we can be a great player in tri-county economic development,” Tekac said. “If you see the economic development announcements that have happened recently, Summerville and North Charleston have them all the time, but you never seem to have one in our city.
“We don’t play an active role in promoting that in our city. We need to say, come on, live here; come on, work here.”
Tekac has been on council for six years and was on the Planning Commission for eight years prior to that.
He said in the event that he does not win the mayoral race he will finish his council term, which lasts two more years.
“A few years ago the people of Goose Creek elected me to represent them for four years, so I’m going to fulfill that term one way or the other,” Tekac said.
In the 2012 council election Tekac received the most votes.
“I’m looking forward to the race and talking to the folks about my vision and what I’d like to see happen going forward,” Tekac said.
“I think it’s best for a community to have choices,” Heitzler said Thursday when asked about Tekac’s decision to challenge him. “I think it’s best for a community to take stock every four years and decide if they want to continue to take the direction they’re going, or to take other courses.
“Competition is good. I’m a very hard-working mayor but it’ll make me work even harder.
“This is good for your community. People need to step up and offer leadership services and stand on those grounds, and that’s what democracy is all about. It’s going to be the decision of the people of Goose Creek.”
Heitzler said he is running on a ticket with the other three council candidates that had filed as of Thursday.
“We’re running together as a team,” Heitzler said. “We’ve been successful as a council working together. We want to run as a team and continue the connection.
“We’re going to campaign together, go door-to-door together, work together to help each other. That’s how a good city council works together.”
Heitzler said the city has an Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC), an ad hoc business committee and an economic development consultant.
“We’ve been a bedroom community to Charleston forever,” Heitzler said. “I-26 doesn’t run through our town. It runs right through Summerville, so you get all those spinoff businesses. That’s where all those businesses are located, near those exits. I-26 runs straight through North Charleston.
“I’m really happy we don’t have the interstate going through our town. The interstate is crowded and noisy.
“Ask the people of Summerville and they’ll tell you they wish it wasn’t there. They’d love to have their little town of Summerville.
“I think we are business friendly. We’ve had a concerted initiative in creating a good climate for business. We cranked it up to the next notch in 1995 when we had the base relocation and closure movement. We cranked up the EDAC to make sure we are business friendly and we are.”
Hammons said the race is non-partisan, so there are no parties and no official tickets to speak of. There is no straight party or straight ticket in the race.
None of the candidates came to the election headquarters to file together, but there is no problem with them campaigning together, according to Hammons.
“If there’s only three seats then they’re going to go, and there’s obviously a write-in opportunity,” He said. “If they want to work together that’s not an issue.”