Able and DependableJohn O’Neill was a tireless public servant, business man and family man
April 20, 2017
By Donna Jacobs | Contributing Writer
Before there were City Council members representing Districts west of the Ashley, there were Aldermen representing Wards. When the decision was made to annex a large section of St. Andrew’s Parish into the City of Charleston, the landscape was divided into two Wards – 13 and 14.
According to an article that ran in both The Charleston Evening Post and The Charleston News and Courier on July 20, 1960, John W. O’Neill, newly elected to represent Ward 14 and William H. Grimball Jr., newly elected to represent Ward 13 attended the City Council meeting “within an hour after the election results were in.”
The campaign card for John W. O’Neill described him as “Able and Dependable”. He was anxious to get to the job of representing the newly annexed citizens from west of the Ashley River.
Step back a few weeks to June 26, 1960. O’Neill’s candidacy announcement ran in that day’s edition of The News and Courier where his credentials were listed: a “native Charlestonian,” World War II Air Force veteran, New York Life Insurance representative, former staff member of U.S. Representative Mendel Rivers, member of Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church, member of West Ashley Civitan Club, married to Elizabeth “Betty” McKenzie (that smiling talkative “Rock” in the photograph that ran in the West Ashley Flashback recently) resident of Parkwood Estates, and father of six children.
O’Neill provided a statement to support his candidacy: “I believe that I have the ability to properly represent the people of Ward 14 in City Council. I can assure them that I will take the required time to do so. I am young enough to be vitally interested in the future of our community, and experienced enough in the business world to know something about how to get things done. There are many problems which will come up as merger of our areas progress. I intend to make myself available to the people in all sections of our ward and will work with them to the best of my ability to solve these problems.” Listed as one of his particular interests – adequately staffed playgrounds in the ward.
Once elected, O’Neill stepped up to his “Able and Dependable” campaign slogan. He served as mayor pro tempore in 1963, and chairman of the City’s committee on Public Safety and Traffic in addition to his many other professional and civic commitments. He was well known, well respected and very involved in the political landscape of the newly annexed area from St. Andrew’s Parish. O’Neill served the citizens of Ward 14 until his untimely death in October of 1970.
Do you have political or other interesting stories about West Ashley’s history? Contact Donna Jacobs at firstname.lastname@example.org.