Former West Columbia Mayor Joe Owens, a longtime local political powerhouse, has died at 75.
Funeral services for Owens, who died Monday, will be private.
His career ended in controversy two years ago.
Owens lost a re-election battle following a power struggle with other city leaders that took away his clout and reduced him to a figurehead with little say over what happened at City Hall.
His blunt style often got him into trouble, some political leaders said. “He spoke his mind,” Lexington County Councilman Darrell Hudson of Lexington said.
Owens’ defeat at the polls came after a council-commissioned report in 2014 said he routinely bent rules to reward friends and intimidate those who challenged him, although it stopped short of saying he did anything illegal.
Before those conflicts, he oversaw an investigation into a sewage spill into creeks in the Red Bank area in 2000 that led to the closing of chemical manufacturer Tin Products.
Despite the controversies, Owens will be remembered “for his love for West Columbia,” said City Councilman Jimmy Brooks, a political ally. “He was a great ambassador for our city.”
Owens was a city councilman and utilities director as well as a Lexington County Council member before being elected mayor in 2011.