City Council elects Combs as Charleston mayor

Stephanie Markham, Editor-in-Chief

The Charleston City Council voted Tuesday to elect Brandon Combs to fill the vacancy of mayor following Larry Rennels’ death last week.

The council then elected Jim Dunn, who served on the council from 1987 to 2013, to fill Combs’ seat as council member.

Council member Matthew Hutti was voted to take the position of mayor pro-tem, which Combs previously held.

Combs has served as president of the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce as well as on other community boards.

He also owns Combs Chiropractic & Wellness Center in Charleston.

“I’m very proud to be able to serve the community I grew up in,” he said. “I have big shoes to fill. Larry was an excellent mayor and leader.”

Combs said the council chose Dunn because he had been on the council for more than 20 years. He said the council hoped this would offset having a mayor with relatively less experience.

Combs was elected as a council member in April 2013 and was in the process of serving his first four-year term.

“I have a good head on my shoulders and I’m going to work very hard, but we needed to go to some more experience to help us out with what we’re missing with Larry,” Combs said.

Combs resigned from his position as council member Tuesday so he could “fully assume the office of mayor.”

Combs’ term as council member as well as Rennels’ first term as mayor would have extended to 2017.

Former Charleston mayors Dan Cougill and John Inyart wished the new mayor and council well during Tuesday’s meeting.

Cougill, who was mayor from 1992 to 2004, said he wanted to be first to address Combs as “Mr. Mayor” when he got up to thank him.

“I would like to commend the council on complying with the statutes, especially during this time of bereavement, and taking actions so quickly that now the city has a full council and a mayor,” Cougill said.

Cougill congratulated the council and thanked city workers who participated in Rennels’ funeral for making a sad event “memorable” and “dignified.”

Inyart, who was mayor from 2005 to 2013, wished the council luck and said he would be there for whatever members may need. He also advised Combs to keep his family and his business as his first priorities despite the demands of being mayor.

“I know Larry would be proud that you’ve done this in such a manner, and I think it’s a nice testament to him to have this behind us,” Inyart said.

Dunn said he agreed when the council members approached him about taking the position because he enjoyed it in the past.

Though he did not always agree with Rennels, Dunn said they saw eye-to-eye on most things and were good friends.

“It’s an honor to do it for Larry and the council and the city,” Dunn said.

The next council meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. July 7 in City Hall.

Stephanie Markham can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].