by John Steinberger | January 20, 2017 7:24 pm
Summerville Mayor Wiley Johnson challenged incumbent Bill Collins in 2015 because he wanted more transparency in town government and more citizen involvement.
The Town of Summerville staff now reports directly to Town Administrator Colin Martin. Johnson is forbidden from attending staff meetings and does not even have an administrative assistant. His vision for Summerville has not wavered from the day he was elected.
At a recent meeting of one of Summerville’s citizen advisory panels, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, Johnson spoke about giving the citizens a larger voice. Only two of the committee’s seven members were in attendance. Johnson, an avid biker and walker, shared his long-term goals for improving bicycle and pedestrian access and asked the committee members to provide more input the Town Council. Committee Chair Mark Greenslit expressed appreciation for that approach, stating that the committee recommendations have not been considered in the past. Johnson told him, “I want you to have a bigger voice. This is how we’ll build up the attractiveness of our town.”
Johnson told the committee that he has submitted a list of new members for all of the Summerville standing citizen committees but noted that Town Council would not vote on his nominees. “We need new blood on the committees,” Johnson said. We need people who are willing to shake things up.” The Summerville Council did approve the Mayor’s nominees for new committees on Veterans, Homelessness and Affordable Housing and Beautification. It rejected his nominees for a proposed Hospitality Tax Advisory Committee.
Summerville, with a population of 51,000, is the fourth largest community in the lowcountry, behind Charleston, North Charleston and Mt. Pleasant. Johnson advocates for a regional, integrated approach to government, cooperating with other local governments and considering the impact of new development on traffic and drainage.
Since taking office in January, 2016, Johnson has ensured that all of the agendas and information packets are available on the town website, www.SummervilleSC.gov. The Town Council meetings are also video-taped and archived on the website. Johnson has also initiated Chat With The Mayor forums on the second Wednesday of each month at 10 am and 6:30 pm on the Town of Summerville Facebook page and on Twitter @SummervilleSC to discuss the following day’s Town Council agenda.
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