Summey says win a validation

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and his wife Debbie were all smiles Tuesday at his victory party at Park Circle.

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey won a sixth term in office in a blow-out election where he won every precinct across the city.

A day later, he called the results a vindication of his administration's policies, including of the police department's concentrated tactics aimed at reducing the worst crimes from occurring in some of the city's most crime-plagued neighborhoods.

"The majority of these people in those precincts appreciate the fact that those neighborhoods are safer," Summey said Wednesday.

The mayor's comments came as unofficial results from Tuesday show one of the widest margins of victory for a major city incumbent in recent times. Summey defeated his only challenger, Charleston County School Board member Chris Collins, by a 78 percent to 22 percent margin.

The closest that Collins came was a 126-113 vote margin in a precinct in the southern portion of the city, where Collins said he has seen the most neglect from City Hall. One of his worst showings was a 155-5 blowout in an older neighborhood northwest of Park Circle.

Summey's win comes as North Charleston NAACP leaders have announced a second community forum next week to discuss the police department and its dealings with the public.

The last session, in August, drew more than 100 people, some with first-person accounts saying they had been poorly treated by officers during their stops and interactions.

While Summey's victory showed a wide reach of support, local NAACP leader Ed Bryant said he doubted that the results were a total vindication of Summey, whom he said defeated a weak opponent and entered the race with the power of being a 17-year incumbent.

"It's a referendum to do something," Bryant said of the vote. The administration is not in tune with the whole city, he said, adding "that's why we're having this forum."

Monday night's session will be to review citations, arrests, convictions and fines in North Charleston, Bryant said. Representatives of the police department have been invited to the forum at the Felix Pinckney Community Center in the Liberty Hill section.

During the last gathering, residents raised issues such as police not showing respect during halts, and targeting the innocent as well as the guilty in their push to find lawbreakers.

At that forum, Police Chief Jon Zumalt defended his department's tactics, saying increased stops are necessary to help halt the violence that had plagued the city for years that has been pushed on by drug and gun crimes, and by people from other neighbhorhoods venturing across boundaries to commit crimes or retaliations.

Since the city launched its program of heightened stops patrols, violent crime has dropped 33 percent, police statistics indicate.

Summey acknowledged that the department's officers are blanketing the city's hot spots, but said the stops are done under a policy of what he called "toned-down aggression" to make sure crime doesn't spread.