Ashley Peele, 2019 Candidate for Mayor of North Charleston
Why did you choose Emerge?
Coming into my first race, I knew I was going to need some political training so I researched programs that were available. I reviewed several programs but I ultimately chose Emerge’s 6-month program as the best fit for me. The program would bring together women leaders from across SC, which was a network I was excited to have, and the training would be diverse and comprehensive. I went from knowing very little about running for office to having the know-how to run a successful campaign.
What office are you running for and why?
I’m a born & raised North Charlestonian, and I knew if I ran for office, it would be locally. I chose to run for mayor for two reasons: 1) Passion for my city – I wanted to make a difference in the city that really made me who I am today; and 2) The numbers – A businesswoman by trade, I always look for data. The data of the North Charleston mayoral race showed a severe lack of participation (~6,000 people voted for our current mayor – we are a city of 120K) and a lack of representation (the current mayor is not reflective of the city’s demographics or political leanings). Those numbers showed this is a winnable race if we could get the right candidate on the ballot.
What is your vision for your community?
North Charleston has the potential to be a great city, but we lack an identity and are suffering from racial inequity, high crime, poor education and a lack of vision. My vision for North Charleston is one in which we are growing equitably and sustainably. One where we are at the forefront of green manufacturing and technology innovation, embracing our identity as the “Silicon Harbor”. One where we’re supporting paths into those workforces for our residents, as well as supporting women- and minority-owned small business. One where we are bridging the divide between our law enforcement and our people. And one where we are investing in infrastructure and protecting our environment and our residents as we grow.
What/Who inspires you to run for office?
Truthfully, if Donald Trump had not been elected and exposed all the hate, bigotry and inequality in our country, in our communities, and even in our own networks, I might never have run for office. These are all the things I knew (albeit, all too late) that I had to stand up and fight against in a more real way than just with words or casting a ballot each election.
Which Democratic woman inspires you and why?
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. RBG is a champion for women and equality, and in her 80s is still fighting with the type of spirit I hope I still have at that age.
What’s the one thing you gained from Emerge and would like to share with others?
The sisterhood and network of women supporting women is unmatched. More so than the comprehensive trainings or discussions with esteemed officials, this was the most valuable part of the program that I’ll be taking with me.