David Jennings' tenure on the Charleston County Aviation Authority came to a halt tonight when County Council refused to recommend him for another term, picking high-profile defense lawyer Andy Savage to take his place on the body that runs the region's three airports.
Jennings, who had been involved with the authority over much of the last two decades and is its current chairman, fell victim to a mix of politics, business decisions and personality clashes with politicians who claimed he was too entrenched or too rigid.
"It appears the Aviation Authority has been run heavy-handed over the years, and it's time for us to get more progressive," County Councilman Elliott Summey said in an interview.
While the vote to not reappoint Jennings came from a majority of County Council, some members of Charleston City Council, the county's Statehouse delegation and even a local Republican women's group got behind the effort to remove him.
"It is time for him to go and for Republicans to take over. The members of the Charleston County Republican Women's Club Inc, will be watching," President Kay Long said in a locally distributed e-mail.
Reached after the vote, state Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, who is also a member of the authority, said Jennings had a management style that was not inclusive, calling Savage "more qualified, and I like his leadership." He continued "nobody has a birthright and entitlement to a position."
Jennings was at the meeting Tuesday but did not speak. Afterward, he said he did not know where the movement to oust him came from, citing a successful year. "Nobody said anything about my shortcomings," he said.
Appointees to the 13-member authority are paid $35 a meeting but serving is also considered a key position in helping chart the region's economic future.
Jennings' status began to appear uncertain this spring, when Charleston City Council balked on his expected reappointment. Instead, City Councilman Tim Mallard sought to nominate fellow Councilman Jimmy Gallant for the seat held by Jennings, and Gallant said Limehouse had asked him to seek the position.
Last week, when a County Council committee voted to support Savage for the slot, Jennings cited his work in the high-stakes efforts to attract Boeing Co.'s Dreamliner plant, and the new service from Southwest Airlines that's expected to start here next year.
Read more in tomorrow's Post and Courier.