At 9:01am this morning, the City of North Charleston posted an interview
with Mayor Keith Summey where he defends his record as mayor in an attempt to get ahead of a potential "negative article" from the Post and Courier.
Summey, who has led the city since 1994, spends much of the 13-minute edited interview, released only on the official North Charleston Government Facebook page, discussing his administration's work bringing large economic development projects to the area and the deals that led to them.
The video was released with a statement from the mayor: "My understanding is the Post and Courier
is about to release a negative article about the city of North Charleston, its leadership, and my style of governing. Here’s my approach to being mayor of North Charleston and the positive things they will not point out."
Prompted by an off-camera interviewer to react to criticism of his "willingness to forge relationships with businesses and developers," Summey asks, "How do I get them to invest here?" He points to the large Centre Pointe retail district, which includes the Tanger Outlets and several big-box chain stores, as an example of a project he helped make happen. "That's how it works in this area," Summey says, discussing his individual relationships with prospective businesses.
Asked again about development projects, Summey says city council is a part of the chain of command to make all development and spending decisions.
Summey goes on to say it would be "foolish" not to hire the people he's known of or watched if he believes they would contribute to the city. "I make no apologies for that," the mayor says.
Summey's son Elliott represents North Charleston and Mt. Pleasant on Charleston County Council, where he was chair from 2015-2016. Elliott is also a senior vice president of Weber USA
, a branch of an automotive company which has owned much of the land around Palmetto Commerce Parkway where major industrial development has been underway for years. Mayor Summey's daughter, Joanna Summey-Fuller, is a magistrate judge
in North Charleston.
Toward the end of the interview, Summey remarks, "Relationships, that's what it's all about. Some people will condemn me for relationships, but look where we've come in 23 years because I've been able to develop those relationships and talk people into spending money in the City of North Charleston."
Asked about Summey's video and whether the paper was working on a story, Post and Courier
Executive Editor Mitch Pugh told us, "We decline to comment on the publication date of this story."