Mayor Collins does not attend debate due to prior engagements

VIDEO: Mayor Collins not attending Wednesday debate due to prior engagements

SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - Summerville voters were disappointed, once again, when only one of the two mayoral candidates showed up for a second public meeting Wednesday

On October 13, candidate Wylie Johnson refused to attend the public forum.

Wednesday evening, the other candidate, Mayor Bill Collins, was a no-show at the debate.

It was hosted by the Summerville chapter of the NAACP, and the Summerville 9-12 project at Dorchester County Council Chambers.

Mayor Collins said he was not told about the debate until a week prior, and he already had plans.

He released this statement:

I adjusted my schedule last week to attend the forum sponsored by the chamber. It has traditionally sponsored forums on elections for decades and the chamber represents 750 local businesses who are the backbone of Summerville's economy. I regret my opponent could not attend. I'm busy running the town and my campaign and have three events scheduled for tonight so I will be unable to attend.

The Summerville chapter of the NAACP said this about Collins' absence:

"I really wished that both candidates could have come together and let the citizens ask questions about their platform -future plans for the town of Summerville. The NAACP is a non-partisan organization and does not endorse either candidate.-Dexcter Mack, Summerville NAACP President.

The meeting started with opposition.

"I do not approve of the NAACP being used in this manor," yelled a Collins' supporter who was quickly escorted out.

Wylie Johnson addressed a packed room, explaining why he did not attend the forum, sponsored by the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce.

"I felt that it was a set-up," said Johnson. "No question about the past four years could be asked."

He then spoke about his issues with the Boutique Hotel, a $30 million private project.

"People hate it because it doesn't look right, it's out of scale," said Johnson. "It's cutting down on of the largest oak trees in Summerville."

He discussed how development and growth needs to be handled better, before it gets out of control.

"We need to enlarge the historic area to protect it," said Johnson. "Now, that's not saying that we're not going to grow."

There were Wylie Johnson supporters in the crowd, and those who back Mayor Bill Collins.

But, whatever team they were pulling for, most agreed they wished they could have heard from both men so they can decide the best person to preserve the place they love so much.

"Being able to walk downtown and see friends and know you don't live in concrete canyon and it's going to remain a small town," said Joe Meehan, who lives in Summerville.

Town council candidate Christine Czarnik was there, but her opponent incumbent Terry Jenkins was not.

Jenkins was at October 13's forum.

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