To say the political atmosphere in the town of Bladenboro over the past several months has been contentious would be like saying Black Friday is just another shopping day.
While many towns in the region struggle to find residents willing to run for office — especially as challengers to incumbents — Bladenboro had no such challenge in last month's municipal election. Two challengers took on incumbent Mayor Livingston Lewis and three challengers took on three incumbent council members.
In addition to those decisions, voters were also being asked to decide on whether to keep the current council/manager form of government or change the charter to a mayor/council.
While few have come out and said it on the record, the general buzz around Bladenboro was that the Nov. 5 election was a referendum on the position, salary and personality of Town Manager Delane Jackson. And in the end, those who seemed to be in the Jackson camp came out on the short end of the ballot box.
Bladenboro voters ousted Lewis after 20 years as mayor, replaced two incumbent council members and approved the change in the form of government.
Last week, however, the outgoing town council did two things in a special-called meeting — one which makes sense and one that spits in the face of voters and the incoming mayor and council members.
First, the council voted to immediately implement the new form of government. Nothing wrong there, since voters had approved it earlier in the month.
But then, the council voted to hire Jackson as the new government's administrator, giving him a one-year contract that, if terminated during that time, would assure him of a six-month severance package.
We will also mention that, mysteriously, no one at the Bladen Journal was notified of the meeting. We were told by Jackson that notification must have been sent to an old email address — this despite the fact that the town, especially Jackson, has corresponded with our office numerous times over the past several months through valid email addressed.
We will side with the town council on the start of the new form of government. Not a single voter should be unhappy with that action.
But hiring Jackson as town administrator should have been left to the incoming mayor and council members to decide.
It's just one more action by now lame-duck elected officials who will stop at nothing to get what they wants, and thoroughly justifies their ouster after being whipped at the polls. Now we hope incoming Mayor Rufus Duckworth and the new council members have the wherewithal to reverse the latter decision and bring some common sense back to Bladenboro.