CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Members of the National Action Network gathered outside a Charleston County Council meeting repeating their calls for the council chairman to resign.
That call came after audio tapes surfaced last week of Chairman Elliot Summey allegedly talking against extending I-526 from West Ashley into James and Johns Island, a project he has strongly supported publicly. The group says Summey also made comments about race.
At Tuesday night's meeting, the mood was sometimes passionate and sometimes even heated during the public comments session. Many people wanted Summey to personally know that they were not pleased with his remarks.
National Action Network leader Elder James Johnson was among those speaking out against Summey.
"We want him completely gone we want him out of Charleston County politics," Johnson said.
The group is also asking black voters to not vote for the half cents sales tax referendum.
"We can't see where we can trust him in the future to handle that half percent sales tax to be fair that money goes to where it needs to go," Johnson said.
Council member Anna Johnson,one of Summey's colleagues, asked him to consider outreach to the community to make amends.
Summey did not respond to the remarks in the meeting Tuesday night, but he did make a public apology in a meeting last week. He says he stands by that apology and that some comments were taken out of context. He also says the comments he made about opposing I-526 were said during the time the project was dead.
The National Action Network say the recordings revealed he changed his party affiliation to get the black vote and they feel underserved.
Last week, NAN and the NAACP claimed Summey also made comments regarding race and called for his resignation.
Summey said he was baited into talking about these issues, and he does not plan on resigning.
"In that during that meeting the reason they were asking me about South Carolina politics is they were asking me they were opposed to Ms. Johnson. Folks don't like Ms. Johnson and they don't like me either and they were asking me why she keeps getting reelected and she lives in a majority-minority district that was formed by a court order, and so I was telling them there were folks asking me how does the race work how does race work in politics in South Carolina. I was very baited into it and it was really a history lesson," Summey said
He also said he apologizes for his comments.
"I apologize if anyone took any offense by what I said. What I said about race and politics in South Carolina was more an anecdote on history. It wasn't racially motivated in any anyway, " Summey said.
He also said this meeting was during a time when the 526 project was dead.
"There was no money going to the project, it was dead and it appeared to be there wasn't going to be a resolution to it. So when the project is off my job as a chairman is to protect the money to find good road solutions for this community," Summey said. "They used things that were said 14 months ago in a completely different setting in a different time and when the road was in a different place."