Summerville governance structure on the ballot

Summerville governance structure on the ballot
November 07 16:27 2016 Print This Article
Mayor Wiley Johnson

Mayor Wiley Johnson

The Town of Summerville voters will decide tomorrow whether it will change to the Mayor-Council form of government in which the Mayor acts as the chief executive of the town government. The referendum was placed on the ballot after more than 6000 petitions were submitted on July 15, move than 20% of Summerville’s registered voters.

Current Mayor Wiley Johnson, who got elected as an outsider who wanted to maintain the character of the town’s downtown area and not expose taxpayers to liability from a hotel-conference center project, was stripped of the office’s executive powers on a 4-3 vote of Town Council one month after taking office. He is currently forbidden to participate in staff meetings by Town Administrator Colin Martin.

Under Summerville’s current Council system of government, previous mayors Berlin G. Meyers and Bill Collins always had executive authority for the town’s operations and direct access to town staff. The referendum to go to the Mayor-Council system would codify the Mayor’s executive authority. Charleston and North Charleston both operate under such a system.

The referendum is supported by a group called Save Summerville, which has put out campaign signs stating “Let Our Mayor Do His Job!” The measure is opposed by a group called Vote No Summerville, whose slogan is “Stop the Power Grab.”

Polls will be open tomorrow from 7 am to 7 pm.