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Teddie Pryor Turns Over Gavel With County In Good Shape
1/21/2015 4:14:38 PM

Teddie Pryor

Elliot Summey
Staff Reports

North Charleston County Councilman Teddie Pryor last week handed over the chairman’s gavel to colleague Elliot Summey after serving six years, the longest consecutive tenure of any chairman. Pryor was only the third African American to serve as council chair since the county’s 1949 incorporation.

We spoke to Pryor about his tenure as chairman. He said the most telling aspect of a tenure which he is extremely proud is that his colleagues had enough respect and confidence in his leadership ability to make him the longest serving chairman. “That tells me something,” he said.

First elected to council eight years ago when the council’s voting method changed from at-large to single member district voting, Pryor hit the ground running. He followed Tim Scott and Lonnie Hamilton to become the third Black member of council. But Pryor’s service was unprecedented. For the first time council had four Black members amid a Republican majority. He’s continued to hold the chairmanship despite being a member of the minority party.

“We’ve got a diverse council and its often been difficult to deal with it because sometimes members played partisan politics. My goal was to get eight other people to agree and that was a difficult task. But if I couldn’t get eight, I had to satisfy five and move forward. The job was time consuming and required flexibility and humility,” he said.

Possessing those skills paid off. During his tenure the county improved its credit rating from AA to AAA. That meant the county could borrow money at a cheaper interest rate. The results was tens of millions of dollars in savings, Pryor said. He estimates the county saved over $50 million during his tenure because of the improved credit rating.
And during his tenure the county was able to lure new industry and jobs, Pryor said. Some 25,000 new jobs were created and new industry generated some $5 billion in revenue, he said. All during a recession.

“We completed numerous road projects in Mount Pleasant, West Ashley, North Charleston and downtown. Those projects spun off jobs in construction and other aspects of the economy. We built a new $110 million detention center and moved the sheriff department to a new facility at Leeds Avenue and Dorchester Road. And we consolidated our 911 services. This year we’ll move many of our services to the old naval hospital on Rivers Avenue. All of that was done without raising taxes,” he added.

Everything wasn’t peaches and creme however. Pryor noted controversies like the debate over completion of I-526. He also ran into head winds with a successful proposal to increase council members salary for the first time in 25 years.

“I can’t take full credit for everything,” Pryor offered. “It took a vision. My job was to insure the vision was implemented. We were able to work cooperatively with the three mayors of the major municipalities and the others. I’d say my greatest asset was my ability to bring people together,” said Pryor who in November was elected to a third four-year term representing North Charleston’s Dist. 5.

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