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County Council, January 3

No agreement as to who leads Council
Council member Pryor retains Chair by default

Warwick Jones

With Democrats holding a majority of seats on Council, the election of the Chair should have been straightforward. It wasn’t. Council member Pryor remained in the Chair after last night's vote, but was not voted to the position. No member who stood for the position obtained a majority and in consequence, Council member Pryor retained his position as Chairman.

Democrats hold five of the nine Council seats. It was six before Council member Summey switched his allegiance recently. But despite this majority, the Democrats could not agree as to whom amongst them should lead Council. Council members Rawl and Condon would not support Council member Pryor. The other Democrat members would not support anybody apart from Council member Pryor.

The result may have been a surprise to many, but not to Council member Rawl. He was reported in the Post and Courier as predicting the final outcome – three votes each for three Council members. In that final vote, Council members Pryor, Darby and Johnson voted for Pryor; Schweers, Qualey and Sass voted for Schweers; and Rawl, Condon and Summey voted for Rawl.

In the first voting round, only two members were nominated for Chairman – Council members Pryor and Schweers. Both received four votes. Council members Pryor, Darby, Johnson and Summey voted for Pryor, and Council members Schweers, Sass, Qualey and Condon voted for Schweers. Council member Rawl abstained. Interestingly and tellingly, the Council member who is a staunch member of the Democratic Party did not vote for Council member Pryor.

Clearly there is animosity amongst Council members and particularly amongst the Democrats. We think this animosity reflects personal differences rather than political. And from the questions asked by Council member Condon of County attorney Dawson, she is clearly unhappy with the outcome and will strive to replace Chairman Pryor. Attorney Dawson told Council that it was obliged to elect a Chair each year. But he opined there was no reason that the Chair could be replaced if the majority of Council willed it.

The vote for the vice Chair was less complicated than that for Chair and cut through party lines. Council members Condon and Summey were nominated, and Summey prevailed with five votes – from Council members Summey, Darby, Pryor, Johnson, and Qualey. Council member Condon, a Democrat was supported by Schweers and Sass, both Republicans. Council member Rawl abstained from the vote.

There was little other business before the Finance Committee last night. A road contract was awarded to pave New Road, which connects Highway 17 to SC Highway 162 near Ravenel.

The Finance Committee broke for an executive session as the end of the meeting to discuss the decision of the state through the action of the State Infrastructure Bank to take over the completion of I -526. There was no discussion of the action in the meeting.

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