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Mar 05 2010

Councilman Qualey looks to join County Council

Councilman Joe Qualey

Councilman Joe Qualey

By Kristin Hackler

Joseph Qualey is a man determined to do what’s right. Whether it’s fighting to protect the conserved acres of Dill Plantation on James Island or cutting cumbersome studies down to simple solutions, Qualey has spent most of his working career as a practicing lawyer in downtown Charleston, dealing with tangled political knots and breaking them down to a single, straight line. It’s this attitude that has helped him serve on the James Island Council for the past seven years, and now, with County Councilman Paul Thurmond stepping down as representative for District 9, Qualey has announced that he will be running for Thurmond’s seat in the November County Council elections.

District 9 covers parts of James Island, West Ashley, Folly Beach, Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island, and Qualey admits that there are a lot of projects and issues in each area that he’ll need to study in-depth, but he’s determined to bring a clear mind and cost cutting solutions to the Council.

“I would like for all budgeting and expenditures to be completely transparent,” said Qualey. “I have some ideas that I’ve implemented in the Town [of James Island] which could be implemented in the County: inexpensive, non-permanent solutions that if they work, great, but it not, we don’t lose much.”

For example, Qualey called for someone to man the traffic light at the corner of Camp and Folly Roads during congested traffic hours, extending the light in certain directions when needed at a cost of only $18 per hour. “It created a much better driving experience,” said Qualey, stating that the same solution could be used at several of District 9’s more congested intersections, including Savannah Highway & St. Andrews Boulevard, Maybank Highway & River Road, and Main Road & Highway 17.

With traffic being such an issue throughout District 9, Qualey has an ideal background: not only did he serve as a Councilman for James Island through all three of its incorporations, he also served on the Town’s Planning and Zoning Committee, as well as the Charleston County Transportation Committee.

In terms of Kiawah and Seabrook Islands’ pressing issues of the extension of I-526 and the Johns Island Greenway, Qualey stated that the Town of James Island and the City of Folly Beach both opposed the extension of I-526. “While I haven’t been asked to study it, I remain skeptical of the utility of it,” said Qualey, pointing out that one of the main reasons for building the extension is for evacuation, but the only place it would evacuate to would be I-26, which is already a parking lot in evacuation situations.

“Evacuation isn’t always about highways, it’s also about decision making and behavior,” said Qualey.

As for the Johns Island Greenway, Qualey has traveled both River and Bohicket Roads extensively and feels that both are dangerous, but as he hasn’t seen any of the plans that are on the table, he hasn’t adopted one as a solution. “Something needs to be done to enhance the safety between Freshfields and the Maybank/River intersection,” said Qualey, “I just don’t know what.” If elected, however, he stated that he will become fully educated on all of the alternatives.

“I brought a committed, passionate position to James Island,” said Qualey, “and that’s what I will bring to the County. I think that’s what the people want and that’s what they deserve.”

Joe Qualey received his undergraduate from Georgetown University in 1980 and his Law degree from the University of South Carolina in 1983. He is presently a member of the Charleston County Bar, the South Carolina Bar and the American Bar of Appeals. He lives on James Island with his wife, Heidi, and sons Kevin (15) and Paul (11).

1 comment

    • PRUDENCE on March 7, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Joe Qualey is a legend in his own mind…he lives nowhere near the traffic debacle created by overriding the light on Folly Road…and as to reporting that he is a man determined to do the right thing, I am willing to bet that is how he describes himself for the purpose of forwarding his political ambitions. I will not believe it until he exposes the corruption in the Town of James Island and someone goes to jail; and publicly admits to any transgressions regarding State ethics laws and laws regulating the establishment of a municipality.

    Lets get it straight that the “reporter” who posted this is not dealing in objective statement of fact but apparently publishing what Joe gave her to write, or strongly influenced the tone and content of. It is like a campaign speech with the endorsement of one writer who really knows very little about Joe Qualey.

    As to what Mr. Qualey is going to do about the problems in the area, one only needs to consider how he and his minions have handle a simple matter of drainage regarding a hideous ditch the Town dug in the front yard of a man who didn’t need a ditch.

    Mr. Qualey should be ashamed of touting his position as a town councilman for the Town of James Island as a qualification for higher office. The Town is almost fictional in nature, having little municipal structure and ridden with crime. Town Council is dysfunctional and does not even follow parliamentary procedure.

    Make no mistake, Joe Qualey is an articulate and persuasive individual as one would imagine someone trained as an attorney would be. And he may in fact be the best candidate to offer for the county seat at hand. More’s the pity. It is sad some really civic minded individuals with a true grasp of corporate management (and that’s what government is after all) don’t offer as candidates.

    So by default we wind up with the likes of Joe Qualey and who knows, he might even grow into the job. But at present his main qualification is that he has the financial resources and audacity to offer as a candidate. And as we should have learned from the recent Presidential election, that and the favor of the free press is all you really need these days to get elected.

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