N. Charleston mayor reflects on time in office, names potential successor
It’s ‘undeniable’ how much Reggie Burgess loves the city and the people who live in it, Summey says
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - After 29 years, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey says he’s stepping down from office this November, saying the death of a close friend was one of the reasons he will not seek reelection.
Summey said the passing of his aide, Ray Anderson, last year was a “wake-up call” for him, and the 76-year-old says he wants to spend as much time as possible with his family.
He became mayor in October 1994, overseeing the city from the closure of the Naval base to its growth into the third-most populated city in the state.
“I think the naval base closure was that wakeup call we needed to pull together and work together, be more unified in what we do, and I think the history will show that’s what got us where we are today,” Summey said.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg praised Summey for his decades of public service.
“Friendly, effective, he got things done,” Tecklenburg said. “He never met a stranger. He could get along with anybody. A great guy. Hats off to you Mayor Summey.”
Summey named North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess as the person he would like to succeed him as mayor. Burgess has not officially announced his candidacy for office.
So far, the only person to file for the office is current North Charleston City Councilwoman Rhonda Jerome.
The mayor said he has known Burgess since he was young and says it’s undeniable how much Burgess loves the city and the people who live in it.
“He’s been able to cross boundaries of dealing with folks in the communities, whether they be traditionally white neighborhoods, traditionally Black neighborhoods,” Summey said. “He has the respect, I think, of the majority of the people in every community in the city. It has nothing to do with his color. It has to do with his ability to lead and his attitude. He has a great personal attitude in the way he communicates with people.”
When asked for comment, a police spokesperson referred to a statement Burgess sent out on Friday, where he thanked the mayor for his years of service but didn’t address whether or not he’ll run for office:
As a lifelong resident of the City of North Charleston, I want to thank Mayor Summey for taking the city to unimaginable heights. As the Chief of Police, I want to thank him for his mentorship and guidance over the years. Mayor Summey provided me the opportunity to serve as the first African American Chief of Police, for which I am deeply grateful. I consider Mayor Summey a dear friend and I wish him well in his much-deserved and well-earned retirement from a life of public service.
Summey expressed disappointment to the lack of development and revitalization of the southern parts of the city and hopes the next mayor can focus on that. For the most part, he said he’s proud of the work he’s done.
“I think we’ve made some wonderful accomplishments,” Summey said. “We haven’t got some of the things done that I would like to, but I think at the end of the day, you can say I made it better than when I found it, and that’s all we can do in life.”
In his final months in office, the mayor said he wants to get the athletic complexes at Danny Jones and Park Circle completed.
He also didn’t rule out doing some consulting work for politicians in the future.
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