Youngest City Council Member Ever Elected in Charleston, South Carolina
Harry Griffin is living proof that dreams do come true, even if in a down-scaled sort of way.
Full disclosure. Harry was a classmate and friend of our son, Alex. He played tag football in our Charleston, South Carolina yard and basketball on our driveway. Harry ate at our table and celebrated birthdays on our screened porch. He was part of a group of West Ashley young men. Yet, he was different. He stood out as a leader and made no apologies for it, even as a child.
As one who’s career included two stints on Capitol Hill, I kept an eye on him. I especially took interest when, as a 3rd grade student, he announced on a local TV station that he’d one day run for President of the USA. I knew he could, and should. He had leadership talent. Family, teachers and friends all noticed and fostered it.
At age 22, Harry Griffin is the youngest Charleston City Council member in modern history. He was elected in a District 10 run-off in November 2017. He smiles every day for the honor to serve his community. Harry knows he’s lucky and he gives all glory to God and thanks to his family, who, according to his mom, Susie Podiak, will always be in the front row cheering him on.
The second oldest of four boys, this 2016 Citadel graduate is a Project Manager at Neal Brothers Charleston, Inc.-a 100-year-old international export packing company led by his father, Darryl Griffin, Sr. A man Harry calls “a very strong leader who’s always been my hero and mentor.”
Harry grew up exposed to the business and enjoyment of one of Charleston’s most important industries-the Maritime industry. He’s foresees himself as an experienced leader one day at Neal Brothers. And, he projects a political career, fighting for “civil liberties of all Charlestonians.”
Although Harry’s election at age 22 is novel in the City of Charleston, he doesn’t think youth is as important as it once was. He does acknowledge, however, that his age did help him stand out and gain additional coverage. He claims his positivity and work ethic were equally important to the historic victory. Familiarity and ease of using social media to communicate his platforms and message to a broad range of voters in rapid time were also key victory indicators.
Harry never doubted he could win. He was ready to make a positive, direct impact on the lives of his friends, family and neighbors. He sought out campaign advice from two-term council member, Marvin Wagner. Wagner was also the first to congratulate Harry on his win and told him to get ready to work. “The easy part was over.”
Getting to Work
Harry hit the ground running. His District notoriously floods, so he’s working with companies and various government entities toward flood mitigation and infrastructure improvements. He keeps his constituents updated with regular social media posts. He spends weekends meeting with residents and doing civic projects. Harry is an active member of the St. Andrew’s Rotary group and the South Carolina Maritime Association.
He’s learning while he’s going. He dissects bimonthly agendas to gain an understanding of key issues before casting a vote. He’s eager to learn more about public transit. “It’s so important to Charleston’s future and we haven’t used it to the full potential.”
Harry is working hard to stay true to the Citadel motto: Honor, Duty and Respect. His actions and decisions are about his constituents and putting their needs first.
Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) is Harry’s national political role model. “Senator Scott is a strong leader who is truly admirable. He not only fights for Republican values but also South Carolinian rights and values.”
He opines that politics on a national level has great intentions but subpar results. Given an opportunity to appoint a President and Vice-President, he’d appoint the current office holders. “We needed something different because the same old political practices were not working.”
Not surprisingly given his upbringing and career interest, on a national level, Harry cares most about the nation’s infrastructure and Commerce regulations.
Harry Griffin Gets Personal
Harry looks forward to one day being a husband and father. For now, he’s content to spend time with his four-year-old brother, Timber, and to watch his brother, Buster, march in step at Citadel parades.
He writes his own music and sings Karaoke.
Harry dreams of a trip to Hawaii where he can turn off his phone and lay on the beach for a week.
He seeks out and admires those with humility, perseverance and generosity.
You’ve done well, Harry Griffin.
The future is bright. You’re one to watch. I’m watching.
Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.
© Copyright. March 2018. Linda Leier Thomason
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