Originally created 01/13/04

Charleston mayor inaugurated for unprecedented eighth term



CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. was inaugurated for an unprecedented eight term Monday and pledged to work for children, better regional planning and to try to save the region's troubled bus system.

"Even after 28 years, this will not be a time to coast or ease up, to slow down or let up or reduce our energy," said Riley, who turns 61 next week and has served as mayor longer than anyone in the city's 334-year history.

Riley collected 57 percent of the vote in November after the most expensive mayoral race in city history.

In a speech from the steps of City Hall in Charleston's historic district, Riley challenged residents and businesses to get involved with children.

He said the city will establish a permanent mentoring program and "our goal should be for Charleston to be a model of civic engagement in public education."

He said the city will work with neighboring municipalities to plan for regional growth.

"If each city or county in a metropolitan area acts independently of each other, then 50 or 100 years from now those that live here will be paying the price," he warned.

Riley also urged Gov. Mark Sanford to allow another referendum in April on a half-cent sales tax increase in Charleston County that would, among other things, provide money to keep the region's troubled bus system operating.

Voters approved the levy in 2002, but the state Supreme Court threw out the result when the justices ruled the wording on the ballot appeared to favor passing the tax.

"We must all pledge to work as hard as we can for the success of this referendum so Charleston doesn't become the only metropolitan area in America without a bus system," the mayor said.