CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The race is set for November to decide the next Mayor of Charleston. Amy Shuler-Goodwin won the Democrat nomination Tuesday, defeating Charleston City Council member Andy Richardson.
“This was a signal from the people in the city of Charleston, they want change,” said Shuler-Goodwin after the race. “They want new energy, new leadership, and they want change.”
Republican J.B. Akers ran unopposed in the opposite primary while Shuler-Goodwin and Richardson forged a mostly positive battle for their party’s nomination.
“Everybody is so sick of the negative ads,” she said. “Charleston is hurting and hurting really bad. We need to push positive and create a positive momentum of change.”
All the candidates agree on the problems facing the city — a rising wave of crime, fewer jobs, and an eroding population.
“People still remember when Charleston was thriving, but now our crime rate is up, we’re losing population, and our budget deficit is monumental,” said Shuler-Goodwin. “It has to change this very second. We can’t wait another minute.”
Akers, the current Charleston city clerk, was unopposed in Tuesday’s Republican Primary but he says that doesn’t mean he wasn’t active.
“I don’t want folks to think that didn’t come without some work,” said Akers. “I announced my candidacy last August and even before that I built up a consensus of support. When you run unopposed, that means the people trusted you.”
Like Goodwin, Akers identified Charleston’s problems as a lack of jobs, public safety, and public services. Akers said the most pressing of those issues is crime.
“Public safety is the most important short-term issue,” he said. “Before you ask somebody to come here and spend money to invest in jobs or you ask somebody to come and live here they have to know it’s a clean city.”
Akers intends to tackle the problems of criminal vagrancy and abandoned housing. He believes fixing those problems immediately will result in a positive turn.
Akers and Goodwin won’t be alone in the November race. Independent candidate Andy Backus also will seek the mayor’s seat. They’ll all vie to replace longtime Mayor Danny Jones who chose not to seek a fifth term in office. Jones will leave as the Capital City’s longest serving mayor in history.