Charleston is blessed with many things; a fine harbor, friendly citizens and a robust economy are but a few. Perhaps we should count the strong field of mayoral candidates as another. As the venerable Joe Riley steps down after decades in office, our populace is called upon to choose the right person to guide our unique city into a promising but never-assured future.

This June two things happened in our city that shocked the world. The first everyone knows, though they wish to forget — nine black men and women, peacefully attending a prayer meeting in their own church, were systematically shot down, slaughtered at the hands of a 21-year-old racist from the Midlands.

As we discussed in our first edition in the fall of 2002, the most important driver of change in Charleston is the arrival of new residents and the manner in which they become comfortable — or not — with their surroundings. We can also tell plenty of stories about jerks and rude you-know-whats but that could be true in any city; let us see a positive and transformational way of reinvigorating the population of our cherished Lowcountry.

The Sergeant Jasper redevelopment controversy is a sure sign of change for the old ways of developing property in Downtown Charleston. Old political alliances have splintered and new voices are speaking truth to power. We could not help but notice how vigorous John Tecklenburg has been on this issue. Your salmon sheets predicted that a candidate for mayor of Charleston would take the leading role in speaking for those who oppose a massive structure at the very gateway to our peninsula. Mr. Tecklenburg rightly sees the most recent plans as the “second kick of a mule” from which one finds no lesson.

The torch of hate will not bring prosperity to those who need it most. This is a fact of history and we can look back on the riots of the 1960s and see how the country reacted and why investment in burned-out inner cities was anemic or non-existent for decades. If you think we are exaggerating, take a gander at the economic history of Detroit. After all, mature businesspersons are not willing to see their assets go up in flames — especially in cities where the police are unable or unwilling to keep law and order.

No presidential administration in United States history has been scandal-free; yet at no time in our nation’s history have scandals been so prone to erupt than during the current era, where we’ve moved past the 24-hour news cycle to a constant feed of smartphone-captured imagery from hundreds of millions of citizen-journalists and a deluge of micro-blogged opinions from anyone with a Twitter account.

The annual April Fool’s joke remains that some taxpayers actually expect the income tax process to change with just modest tweaking. Throwaway lines come and go; elected officials poke and prod the IRS; some use the IRS to beat their political opponents like baby seals; and the cycle continues. As we continue to watch this horror movie, we should keep in mind that the ending can only change if the cast of characters becomes, not ghouls and fools, but fearless advocates for the sort of efficient government that escaped even the best attempts of President Ronald Reagan. As we face the presidential election of 2016, it is high time to analyze our priorities.

Mercury newspaper racks are located at the following locations:

The Meeting Street Inn

Clair's Service Station at 334 Folly Rd.

Harris Teeter on Houston-Northcutt Blvd.

The Square Onion in I'On

Mt. Pleasant Library on Mathis Ferry Rd.