MONCKS CORNER — Berkeley County Council may have ushered in a new era of cooperation Monday, even voting unanimously on the previously controversial topic of hiring a council clerk.
Catherine Windham, who has served as interim clerk since July 2011, said she is glad the issue is settled. “I’m just proud to serve the citizens of Berkeley County,” she said.
Windham was named clerk a month after Supervisor Dan Davis first blocked the appointment, saying he believed the clerk reports to him. Others said state and county laws say the clerk is appointed by council and reports to the vice chairman, currently Councilman Dennis Fish.
Many said Davis was using the clerk’s position as a pawn in a power play. Both Fish and Councilman Tim Callanan said Davis lost power in January, when conservative Ken Gunn took a seat on council and shifted votes on many issues to 5-3, eliminating the need for the supervisor to cast a tie-breaker.
After two days of discussions earlier this month, Davis, Callanan and Gunn, aided by county attorney Nicole Scott Ewing and lawyer Josh Whitley, agreed that the clerk will be appointed by council, with a liaison serving between the clerk and the supervisor’s office.
At the time, Davis and Callanan said they hoped it would herald a new era on council, where members could discuss matters without the arguments that had become routine.
On Monday, council did that, conducting the county’s business without disagreement. “I am encouraged by the cooperation shown tonight,” Callanan said after the meeting. “We’ve come a long way from where we were four or five months ago.”