County council moves forward with sweeping changes
Signs of thaw in bitter division emerge
The New Year often signifies change, and in 2013 nowhere is that change more apparent than with Berkeley County Council.
During its first meeting of 2013 on Monday, the reorganization process undertaken every two years went smoothly, and with less acrimony than some council observers expected.
“They took the high road,” said former Berkeley County School Board member Terry Hardesty, a regular meeting attendee. “They could have done what was done to them two years ago when council decided on those five-member committees.”
“They” are the self-proclaimed conservative Republican faction of Tim Callanan, Dennis Fish, Phil Farley and Cathy Davis, who often opposed the agenda of County Supervisor Dan Davis and his alliance with council members Jack Schurlknight and Bob Call, both Republicans, and Democrats Caldwell Pinckney and Steve Davis.
But with 2013, Call is gone, defeated by political newcomer Ken Gunn, and so is the narrow majority enjoyed by the supervisor.
“It’s time for us to be a better functioning government,” said Callanan. “It’s time to move forward.”
The reorganization was short and sweet, but the changes were all encompassing.
Gone are the five-member committees as council returns to committees that include all council members. Also, the committee chairmanships changed hands with Callanan replacing Schurlknight as Finance Committee chairman and Fish in charge of the newly organized committee of Human Resources and Purchasing. Fish also replaced Steve Davis as vice chairman of county council.
The remaining committee chair assignments are as follows: Land Use and Development – Phil Farley; Water and Sanitation – Cathy Davis; Community Services – Caldwell Pinckney; Facilities and Code Enforcement – Steve Davis; Justice and Public Safety – Ken Gunn; and Human Services – Jack Schurlknight.
Other changes included more detail on meeting agendas, and moving the meeting time back 30 minutes to 6:30 p.m.
“Like it or not the public does not trust government,” Callanan said. “What we want to do is make our government more available to the general public and make it easier for people who have to drive from Hanahan, Daniel Island and Goose Creek to make it out here to attend the meetings.”
Following the meeting Schurlknight and Fish agreed it was time to put the bad feelings on council in the past and move forward for the greater benefit of Berkeley County.
“I think it’s time for council to work together as a whole and move forward,” Fish said.
Schurlknight added, “I’m here to do a good job representing Berkeley County. It’s time to move forward.”