Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. is widely considered one of the most visionary and highly effective governmental leaders in America. First elected Mayor in December 1975, Mayor Riley is serving an unprecedented ninth term. Under his leadership, Charleston has increased its commitment to racial harmony and progress, achieved a substantial decrease in crime, experienced a remarkable revitalization of its historic downtown business district, seen the creation and growth of Spoleto Festival U.S.A., built the beautiful Waterfront Park, developed nationally-acclaimed affordable housing, and experienced unprecedented growth in Charleston’s size and population. Mayor Riley has led a city government with an impressive record of innovation in public safety, housing, arts and culture, children’s issues, the creation of park and other public spaces, and economic revitalization and development. The City of Charleston is recognized as one of the most livable and progressive cities in the United States.
The following is a partial list of accomplishments:
- Served as President of the U. S. Conference of Mayors 1986-87 and currently serves on the USCM’s Executive Committee.
- Served as Chairman of the Cities Task Force of the Southern Growth Policies Board and served as President of the National Association of Democratic Mayors (1988-92).
- Was given the Outstanding Mayors Award by the National Urban Coalition, the Distinguished Citizen Award by the National Association of Realtors and named the 1991 Municipal Leader of the Year by American City & County.
- Received the Order of the Palmetto, been named South Carolinian of the Year, and given the 1982 Verner Award by the South Carolina Arts Commission for outstanding contributions to the arts.
- Received many commendations for his leadership of the Charleston community before, during and after Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
- In June 2000, he was awarded the first President's Award from the U. S. Conference of Mayors for outstanding leadership.
- In July 2000, he was honored as the first recipient of the Urban Land Institute J. C. Nichols Prize for Visionary Urban Development.
- In February 2002, he was given the Keystone Award, given for exemplary leadership to those who use architecture to transform their communities, by the American Architectural Foundation.
- Received the Scenic America Lifetime Achievement Award in1999, received the first U. S. Conference of Mayors President’s Award in 2000, was named one of the 2004 Giants of Design by House Beautiful magazine,was awarded the ASLA 2004 Olmstead Medal
- Received the South Carolina Governor’s Award in the Humanities in 2005.
(see the Riley Media Center tab for a video of Mayor Riley's presentation on his dream for the city of Charleston.)