Urban Politics & Policy Series

The Honorable Joseph P. Riley, Jr.
Mayor of Charleston, South Carolina

Joseph P. Riley, Jr., first elected Charleston’s mayor in 1975, is currently serving an unprecedented ninth term. Under his leadership, the city has established an impressive record of innovation in public safety, housing, arts and culture, the creation of public spaces, and economic revitalization and development. He delivered an address,¬†“Redesigning the American City: Urban Policy in the 21st Century,” on¬†January 28, 2002.

Riley served as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 1986-87 and currently serves on that organization’s executive committee. He has been president of the National Association of Democratic Mayors (1988-92) and was given the Outstanding Mayors Award by the National urban Coalition. Newsweek magazine also named him one of the 25 most dynamic mayors in America.

A native of Charleston, Riley graduated from The Citadel in 1964 and earned a law degree at the University of South Carolina School of Law. In 1968, he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives, where he served for six years. He has received the Order of the Palmetto, has been named South Carolinian of the Year, and was given the 1982 Verner Award by the South Carolina Arts Commission for outstanding contributions to the arts.