On Tuesday, voters who have not already cast ballots in this year’s municipal election will make their way to their respectful polling locations. One ballot issue of interest to voters in Bladenboro is the referendum to change the form of government from manager-council back to mayor-council.
An idea that Bladenboro resident Larry Simmons says is a bad one. In an email to the Journal he said, “To approve this referendum would set Bladenboro back tremendously, not only in the ability to govern effectively, but in our standing within the county, the region and the state. Manager-Council is the form of government that ‘all’ towns and cities aspire to reach and is currently being used by 45 percent of North Carolina towns/cities with populations from 1,000 to 1,999.”
Simmons explained that, basically, all towns start life using the mayor-council model. As they grow and gain such assets as fire departments, police departments and public works and such, they eventually need more staff and move to the manager-council model.
“Most mayors and council members also have full-time jobs and this takes time away from their service to the town/city. Deciding issues by committee, based on personality, political persuasion, lack of procedural knowledge, the law and legal requirements, etc. also influence the decision-making process. Bladenboro reached the level of requiring full-time management several years ago and with several more large-scale projects ongoing, this need continues,” said Simmons.
Several municipal seats around the county are also being contested.
In Tar Heel, incumbents are on the ballot and running unopposed for the mayor and two council seats — Roy Dew will serve another two-year term as mayor, while Angie Hall and Sam Allen will serve another two-year term as council members. A write-in candidate will fill the remaining seat.
In Bladenboro, a trio of candidates will be vying for the mayor’s seat and six individuals are looking for three council seats. Incumbent Mayor Livingston Lewis has filed seeking re-election, but he will be challenged by both Ken Chavis and Rufus Duckworth. Three incumbents will face the challenges of three candidates for seats on the council. Billy Ray Benson, Mitchell Hughes and Steve Bryan are seeking re-election, but will be challenged by Bud Freeman, Jeff Atkinson and Curtis Timothy Benton Jr.
In White Lake, five candidates will vie for three seats on the town council. Incumbents Tim Blount, Mike Suggs and Barbara Williams will face challenges by Harvey Iwerks and Paul A. Evans.
In Elizabethtown, four candidates have filed to run for three available seats on the town council. Incumbents Rufus D. Lloyd, Herman L. Lewis and Paula Greene will be challenged by Ivan T. Davis.
In the town of Dublin, incumbent Jeffrey Smith will face a challenge by newcomer Thomas I. Thompson for the one seat open on the town council.
The rest of the ballot will include the following unopposed candidates: Incumbent Dublin Mayor Horace Wyatt for the two-year seat; incumbents Perry Blanks and Lillian Graham for the four-year seats on the East Arcadia Town Council; and, incumbent Tim Tart and newcomer Jason Lewis for four-year seats on the Clarkton Town Council.