Sullivan’s Island Town Council welcomed two new council members, re-elected a familiar face and elevated another familiar member to mayor in the past municipal election. Those results came into effect Tuesday at the monthly council meeting.
Mike Perkis, former mayor pro tem and current mayor, called the transition “very good (and) very classy.” Carl Smith, the outgoing mayor who had served on town council for 34 years, narrowly lost a write-in re-election campaign that showed a divide among Sullivan’s Island residents on who should lead the island.
At the heart of the dispute was the rebuilding of Sullivan’s Island Elementary School and the issue of whether residents should be able to vote on the size of the school. Smith supported a referendum to allow a vote but was consistently the only opposing vote to six other council members.
The two new council members – Chauncey Clark and Susan Middaugh – both support current school plans, as does re-elected Pat O’Neil. Perkis said that although council may be more united now, he doesn’t want different – and perhaps dissenting – opinions held back during council discussions.
“I hope we don’t (always agree),” Perkis said. “But, once the council agrees, I firmly believe we’re going to move forward as one.”
Council recognized Smith and outgoing councilwoman Madeleine McGee, who chose not to seek re-election.
Among Sullivan’s Island Town Council’s priorities is to develop a better communication plan. In questionnaires with the four elected officials published in recent editions of the Moultrie News, all four mentioned external communication with residents as an area to improve.
One resident suggested in a Letter to the Editor of the Moultrie News that council should video-record all meetings subject to Freedom of Information Act guidelines. Perkis said that option will be explored, as will others.
Town administrator Andy Benke suggested having an AM radio station that could broadcast traffic information, information about upcoming events and council updates. All options, including their financial costs, will be considered soon in committee meetings, Perkis said. All meetings are currently recorded for audio. The recordings are available to be listened to if a person comes to town hall. The minutes of all meetings are posted online, he added.
Tuesday’s council meeting included the passing of an ordinance for the fiscal year 2014 budget and for the water and sewer budget. It lasted an hour and a half, which is an improvement from the norm. Perkis said the meetings shouldn’t last for hours because he wants more thorough committee meetings.
This requires council members to be better prepared and ready to act immediately during council meetings. “I can’t remember the last time we had an hour and a half (long) meeting,” Perkis said, adding that about 50-60 people were in attendance. “I hope they keep showing up.”
Jerry Kaynard was voted by his council peers to be mayor pro tem.
The following committee assignments were also made official:
Ways and Means: Mike Perkis, chair; Jerry Kaynard, co-chair; all members of council
Personnel: Jerry Kaynard, chair; Susan Middaugh; Mary Jane Watson
Water and Sewer: Susan Middaugh, chair; Jerry Kaynard; Mike Perkis
Building and Construction: Hartley Cooper, chair; Pat O’Neil; Mike Perkis
Fire: Chauncey Clark, chair; Pat O’Neil; Mary Jane Watson
Recreation: Mary Jane Watson, chair; Jerry Kaynard; Hartley Cooper
Real Estate: Pat O’Neil, chair; Mike Perkis; Jerry Kaynard
Police: Chauncey Clark, chair; Pat O’Neil; Susan Middaugh
Streets and Maintenance: Hartley Cooper, chair; Susan Middaugh; Mike Perkis