Clad in identical gray T-shirts that read, "What matters to you?" Lorenzo Watson and Diana Bonete knock on doors along upper King Street.

When Jake Miller answers, they ask him about what he would like to see changed in the city.

What's working well? What could be done better?

As Miller talks, Watson taps some notes into his iPad.

Miller said he is pleased with Charleston Mayor Joe Riley's performance in office. "He's done a good job," he said. "It will be a scary thing if we have a change."

As they leave, Watson and Bonete ask Miller if he's willing to make telephone calls or visit neighbors on the mayor's behalf. Miller says he will get back with them after checking his schedule.

Riley's re-election campaign is spending six weeks this summer going door-to-door, but not to ask for people's votes -- at least not directly.

Instead, it's asking people what they think needs attention in the city. Does the city have its priorities straight?

It's not your normal campaign strategy.

The 16 college-aged campaign workers, called "Joe's Neighborhood Corps," work from 1 to 9 p.m. most days, beginning with an hour's worth of games and team-building exercises that get them loosened up for going door to door.

They then collect their iPads, bottled water and "Glads" and "Sorrys," different letters they leave at homes depending on whether anyone was at home. Then they leave in pairs to knock on doors.

The corps is the brainchild of Riley's campaign consultant, Ginny Deerin, who laments that so many campaigns emphasize TV ads rather than personal contact.

Deerin thought the corps would be a great way to get young people involved with the campaign while giving the mayor valuable feedback for Nov. 8 --and beyond, if he is re-elected to a 10th term.

"It's more than a political campaign but a gift that keeps on giving," she said. "What does this neighborhood care about? What do they think are the priorities? That would really be cool."

Brandon Harris, who attends Trident Tech, has been canvassing Johns Island. There, not surprisingly, most people have talked to him about the county's controversial Interstate 526 project. Harris said supporters seem to outnumber opponents, but only by a 3-2 margin.

For every corps job, there were four applicants, some from well outside the Lowcountry. Moses Landrum IV has studied in Atlanta and soon will enroll at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Landrum eventually plans to seek a state Senate seat in Boston.

The corps' emphasis on leadership development and surveying -- rather than a harder sell -- makes it different, but it still has political value.

The corps members ask everyone, on a scale of 1 to 10, what kind of job the mayor is doing. If nothing else, they're compiling an electronic list of his biggest supporters -- people they will want to contact again as the Nov. 8 election date nears.

"There's no question about that this is a campaign endeavor," Deerin says. "But the beautiful thing is it's more than a campaign endeavor. It's a two-fer or three-fer. You get information that will help him govern and you help develop young leaders."

Charleston City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie, who is running against Riley said he's aware of the mayor's corps.

"They're cute," he said. "The difference is I'm going directly to the voters myself -- as many as I can."

Schoolteacher Craig Jelks and author David Farrow also are in the race.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.