New council boasts diversity

3 newcomers represent outlying Charleston districts

When Charleston's new City Council is seated in January, there will be no lawyers among its members for the first time in years, fewer women and no council member who lives south of Broad Street on the tip of the peninsula.

There will be more real estate brokers, more conservatives and the city's first City Council member from Berkeley County, Daniel Island resident Gary White.

White and Tim Mallard, two new councilmen who will represent areas farthest from downtown, said they will push for better services for suburban residents who now feel left out. Along with Aubry Alexander, from West Ashley's North Bridge area, they will be council's new faces.

"One of the things I will do is make sure that the voices of people on Daniel Island and James Island are heard, who may not have had their voices heard as much in the past," White said.

Incumbent Councilmen James Lewis Jr., Jimmy Gallant and Louis Waring were each re-elected Tuesday. The remaining six council seats will be up for election in 2009.

With 12 members on City Council, and Mayor Joe Riley the 13th vote, few expect a big change in the balance of power.

"From the results I saw, most incumbents were re-elected, but some outlying areas of the city were looking to be heard," said Mallard, who will represent Johns

Island and parts of West Ashley and James Island.

"We're 350 years old, and three newcomers on council aren't going to change Charleston," he said. "I do think the center of gravity has changed, from downtown."

Mallard, a broker of industrial real estate, defeated incumbent Councilwoman Anne Frances Bleecker, an attorney specializing in family law who created Charleston's Mayor's Office on Aging and led the recent effort to craft the city's Johns Island Plan, which aims to guide development.

"The people that voted yesterday voted for the developers," Bleecker said Wednesday. "The people who couldn't get Joe Riley went after me."

During the election, Mallard was critical of the city's exacting development regulations, which he said nearly scuttled a deal to bring a new Harris Teeter store to the St. Andrews Shopping Center. Riley announced a compromise plan for the shopping center four days before the election, and both candidates sought some of the credit.

Mallard said some of the city's regulations are appropriate downtown but not in the suburbs.

Unlike Mallard, White and Alexander were running for seats where the incumbents, Henry Fishburne and Paul Tinkler, did not seek re-election. Alexander ran unopposed, while White defeated downtown resident Ernie Long.

Alexander and Mallard both describe themselves as conservatives, and Alexander said his constituents want him to focus on issues like people who leave junk cars in their yards.

"You have to respect the property rights of individuals, but you don't have the right to have a junk yard in the neighborhood," he said.

Bleecker noted that she, Tinkler and Fishburne were the only attorneys serving on City Council, and now there will be none. White, a banker, said it's good to have a diversity of business experience at the table.

"If you put together people with different ethnic or business backgrounds, you get more out-of-the-box ideas," White said.

The new council will be composed of five black men, four white men and three white women. The diversity of business experience includes a reverend, a grocery store manager, an insurance agent, real estate brokers, a medical office worker, a housing counselor and a concert harpist.

Council District 1

NAME: Gary White

AGE: 34

RESIDENCE: 303 Hidden Bottom Lane, Daniel Island

EDUCATION: Master of Business Administration, The Citadel, 2002; Bachelor of Science in business administration, College of Charleston, 1995

OCCUPATION: Vice president, community banking, Wachovia Bank, 1999-present

PRIOR PUBLIC OFFICE: None

COUNCIL MEMBER HE WILL REPLACE: Henry Fishburne

Council District 9

NAME: Aubry Alexander

AGE: 54

RESIDENCE: 1400 Parkshore Drive, Charleston

OCCUPATION: Broker, Daniel Ravenel Sotheby's International Realty

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science in political science from Baptist College at Charleston, 1976; attended College of Charleston, 1971-1975

PRIOR PUBLIC OFFICE: Appointed to the City of Charleston Neighborhood Council Commission, 2000, chairman since 2001

COUNCIL MEMBER HE WILL REPLACE: Paul Tinkler

Council District 11

NAME: Tim Mallard

AGE: 46

RESIDENCE: 3095 South Shore Drive, Charleston

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Arts in humanities and social science, University of South Carolina, 1985

OCCUPATION: Industrial real estate broker with Colliers Keenan

PRIOR PUBLIC OFFICE: Appointed to the Small Business Regulatory Commission, 2006-present; appointed to the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, 2005-present; and appointed to the SC World Trade Center Advisory Board, 2001-present

COUNCIL MEMBER HE WILL REPLACE: Anne Frances Bleecker