I attended the Summerville Town Council Meeting on Nov. 11. I knew there might be fireworks, but what I witnessed was totally beyond my imagination. I was dismayed at the behavior of the citizens. The majority were Wiley Johnson supporters, understandably since he won 53 percent of the vote for mayor. Mind you, only 15 percent of voters turned out.
However, the manner in which their opposition was expressed was just short of a street riot. One by one citizens opposed to Mayor Bill Collins voiced their concerns. Accusations, name calling and fingerpointing were the theme of the evening. The mayor had to restore order after a woman politely thanked the mayor and council for their service this past four years and was drowned out by boos and heckling.
Is that the kind of society we are now? I thought it was our right to have differing views in a democratic society. And when did civility disappear from our town?
I’d like to make two points:
1) Backers of Wiley Johnson might feel that he will save Summerville from growth. Well, that won’t happen. In 1968 when I arrived with my family the town was very accepting of us military families. In no way did I feel unwelcomed at school, and my parents were quickly invited to meet neighbors. Summerville was quaint, with no restaurants other than Eva’s, a couple of gas stations and the shops on Hutchinson Square, which closed at 1 p.m. on Thursdays and all day Sunday.
The friends I made then are still my friends — dear friends at that. During Berlin G. Myers’ long service as mayor, the town grew exponentially. My father opened a paint and wallpaper store after retiring from the Air Force in 1972. It was quite successful.
A large number of those who are opposing growth are transplants themselves. That’s what drives growth, business and industry, jobs and roads.
2) Mr. Johnson is the mayor-elect, and I pray that he will treat that office and the people living and working in and for the town of Summerville with respect as Mayor Myers did for 40 years and Mayor Collins has for four. But after the disrespectful and bullying behavior I witnessed by my townspeople, I wonder.
Donna G. Jenkins
N. Hickory Street