In less than two months, city of Greenville residents will vote in the 2023 municipal elections.
For the first time since 2007 incumbent Republican Mayor Knox White faces opposition from a Democratic candidate, Michelle Shain.
There are also three City Council seats and a Commissioner of Public Works seat up for grabs in the Nov. 7 city elections.
In June, just 3,530 people voted in the Greenville mayoral primary election, which is just 6.6% of voters registered in the city. By comparison, in the 2020 general election, 34,917 people in the city of Greenville voted in the general election, which was approximately 33% of registered voters.
“There’s certainly a low awareness, it’d be fair to say, of the city election at this point, but that will change,” White said.
Incumbents John DeWorken (Republican, District 1) and Ken Gibson (Democrat, District 3) are both running unopposed for their city council seats.
Gibson will also begin campaigning for the fourth seat of the 13th judicial district, selected by legislators, at the end of the year. He will be running against Vernon Dunbar, Will Grove, Isaac Johnson and Zandra Scott.
The South Carolina Judicial Merit Selection Commission will hold public hearings regarding the different candidates for judicial positions beginning Nov. 6, 2023. The commission chooses three candidates and then sends it to the South Carolina General Assembly, which will vote by a majority to select a candidate.
Incumbent Phillip Kilgore, Republican, is also running for Commissioner of Public Works, along with Zach Dukes, also a Republican.
Greenville’s candidates combine in-person and online campaigning
Candidates say social media campaigning does not replace in-person meetings, but they recognize the importance of various platforms to inform residents of city meetings, events or campaign updates.
Dorothy Dowe, the Democratic incumbent for Greenville’s city council at-large seat, uses the same social media accounts for city news and campaigning.
“I have to wear two hats,” Dowe said. “Being a candidate and being a councilmember, those two things merge and function on the same social media channel.”
Dowe says she’s running on her record, such as advocating for affordable housing.
“My record of my first term reflects the body of work I’ve been able to accomplish,” she said. “I recognize there’s still more work to be done on those priorities.”
Her priorities include sustainability, preserving green spaces, developing a high-functioning transit system, investing in infrastructure and ensuring public safety.
Her opponent, Republican Randall Fowler, uses Instagram Reels, an app allowing for videos up to 90 seconds, for his campaign.
“It’s a fun way to engage, and people want to be engaged,” said Fowler.
Fowler, a first-time candidate, said he’s running on increasing transparency within the council, growing Greenville responsibly, safer neighborhoods and schools, increasing greenspace and improving transportation.
Mayor Knox White on seeking an eighth term
White views his responsibility as mayor to operate as the “lead urban planner for the city.”
“My passion is the city,” White said. “And my focus has always been on urban planning.”
White’s campaign website includes the following priorities:
- Protecting and preserving neighborhoods
- Prioritizing affordable housing
- Supporting increased pay for police officers and investments in training
- Balancing the budget
- Keeping taxes low
- Expanding green space
Shain, who was an at-large member of Greenville’s City Council from 1999-2007, said affordability in housing inspired her to run for mayor.
She is also running on investing in police and fire departments, addressing traffic concerns, protecting green spaces and ensuring support for small businesses.
Early voting begins Monday, Oct. 23 and will continue through Friday, Nov. 3 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Greenville County Square or City of Greenville Public Works.
Voters can also apply for an absentee ballot by mail by calling the Greenville County Voter Registration and Election Office. The last day for the office to receive a signed absentee application is Oct. 27, 2023.
Reach Savannah Moss at email@example.com.