I write to clarify the facts regarding the upcoming change in administration in the Town of Summerville.
On Nov. 3 in our municipal election, Wiley Johnson was elected mayor and Christine Czarnik was elected to town council. They are scheduled to be sworn in on Jan. 6, 2016.
Mr, Johnson campaigned on his intentions to hire a professional town administrator and promised he would give back to the town $30,000 of the mayor’s $45,000 salary to help fund compensation needed to pay an administrator (estimated to be between $150,000 and $200,000 per year). In an effort to enable Mr. Johnson to hit the ground running when he takes office on Nov. 9, I relinquished the powers to run the city on a day-to-day basis. Those powers were given to me in July 2011 when I asked council to give me a chance to be acting administrator. The previous administrator had left in March 2011 and Lisa Wallace was interim administrator when I took office.
Council approved my request and I proceeded to run the city for the past four years. I did not have the power to hire or fire employees; that was reserved for council since Summerville operates under a strong council-weak mayor form of government.
I spent countless hours in one-on-one meetings with council members and in telephone conversations — all in an effort to build consensus for goals I had. That is absolutely necessary because nothing is accomplished under our form of government without at least four councilmembers voting in favor. I am proud of what we as a council accomplished in the way of traffic, public safety, parks and recreation and planning improvements, including a Vision Plan.
Mr. Johnson has publicly stated that he wants a strong council with an administrator. I felt giving up my administrative powers before Jan. 6 was accommodating him. Council appointed Ms. Wallace interim administrator, a role she has played twice before and is qualified to perform. With her running day-to-day operations, council has time to amend ordinances that govern a strong council-weak mayor form of government so that when Mr. Johnson takes office he will be exactly where I was in June 2011.
To amend an ordinance takes two votes of council. Details can be worked out before it comes up for second reading and final approval. There certainly are issues that must be addressed before the amended ordinances come up for vote in December. I personally asked mayor-elect Johnson and Ms. Czarnik after the meeting Nov. 11 to contact councilmembers immediately to give their input. I hope they will do so.
I have enjoyed my service as mayor of Summerville and thank the many citizens who have given me their support and input. I still believe Summerville’s best days are ahead of us.
Mayor, Town of Summerville
S. Main Street