ISLE OF PALMS — Council candidate Jonathan Gandolfo is in a three-way runoff election to settle Tuesday's vote.
At the same time, the city government is moving forward with the prosecution of two misdemeanor charges against him that resulted in his arrest for violating the tree ordinance.
In a separate civil action, the city is seeking $80,000 from Gandolfo for cutting down two trees that were considered significant, said his attorney, Frank Cornely.
The penalty includes the cost of replacement trees, he said.
Gandolfo was required to first get a city permit before cutting down the trees.
A jury trial on the charges was scheduled for this week. It has been postponed.
The experience spurred Gandolfo to run for council, his attorney said.
"Jonathan was appalled at the action that the city was trying to take against him," Cornely said.
Gandolfo considered his arrest and prosecution a waste of city resources, the lawyer said.
On Tuesday, Gandolfo emerged from a field of 11 council candidates to qualify for the Nov. 21 runoff election to fill two council seats. Ryan Buckhannon and John Moye are the other contenders.
Police arrested Gandolfo on Nov. 21, 2016, on two warrants charging him with "cutting/removing timber without permission." He was booked into the Charleston County jail and released on bond later that day, according to detention center records.
"I am confident that I will be cleared of any wrongdoing," Gandolfo said in a statement released by his lawyer.
A city official who first investigated a resident's complaint about Gandolfo cutting the trees said he could not talk about the case. Police did not respond to a request for comment.
Gandolfo could be elected to a council that will be much different because of new faces. Two incumbents didn't seek another term, two were defeated and two-term mayor Dick Cronin lost to councilman Jimmy Carroll. A special election will be held to fill out the remaining two years on Carroll's council term. The date of the election and candidate filing period has not been announced.
Having so many candidates in the field and the hot-button issue of whether to spend $5.5 million to revitalize the city marina caused passions to run high this season. There was some mudslinging on competing Facebook pages. Some candidates whispered to the media about Gandolfo's tree fight but didn't raise it publicly.
The marina referendum failed by a 2-1 margin.
Two of the council candidates, Susan Hill Smith and Randy Bell, were elected without a runoff. Barbara Bergwerf and Patrick Harrington lost their seats on council. Sandy Ferencz and Marty Bettelli did not seek another term.
The Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration will certify the voting results Friday.