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Creedmoor commissioners vote against mayoral term extension

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CREEDMOOR — A proposal by Creedmoor Mayor Bobby Wheeler to extend the length of the term of the job he currently occupies was defeated in its infant stages in a split vote at Monday’s meeting of the Creedmoor Board of Commissioners.

If passed, the measure would’ve amended the city’s charter to extend the mayoral term from two to four years beginning with the 2021 election. The board voted on a resolution of intent that would’ve begun the process and set the stage for a public hearing on the matter.

In comments to the board and public in attendance, Wheeler explained his rationale for the proposal.

“When Darryl Moss was mayor, it was a continuation,” Wheeler said, referring to his predecessor’s long tenure as mayor from 1999-2017. “He knew what he was doing. Everything was fine. Now it’s a new mayor that really is not going to have this much experience in this. I know my first year was rocky because I was learning how to do things as far as the board of commissioners goes. So I’m just feeling like I’m getting my feet on the ground halfway through (this term), and now I’m going to have to run again. If I lose, the next mayor will have to do the same thing. By doing this, we give the mayors a chance to learn their position, to learn their job, and to better benefit Creedmoor.”

Wheeler stressed several times that he was not proposing the measure for any personal benefit.

The measure did have public support from Ed Gleason, who chairs the city planning board. Gleason echoed many of Wheeler’s arguments in support.

“Just as a citizen, I think that’s an excellent move,” said Gleason. “With a brand new mayor, the first year he learns how to be a good mayor. Six months later, they’re campaigning again. So I think for the consistency of the city as it grows its a very good idea. I’m also glad that this wouldn’t take effect until 2021.”

The proposal was met with vocal opposition by Mayor Pro Tem Ernie Anderson, who argued that the change was unnecessary given the city government’s structure set forth in the charter.

“Our city’s forefathers set up the term for two years for a reason,” Anderson said. “We’re a city-managed government with a full-time city manager, a part-time board and mayor. The city manager looks over the day-to-day business of what’s going on in the city. The mayor holds the meetings, checks what’s going on with city hall, and doesn’t really make any decisions of any kind in running the city.”

Anderson also contended that while many cities have four-year terms for mayor, those mayors were in full-time positions.

Commissioners Del Mims and Nina Nowell voiced support for the measure, with Mims saying that she felt comfortable moving forward with such a proposal after prior consultations with legislative representatives.

“I remember this coming up at a state dinner in Raleigh several years ago and they agreed that it was doable and up to the board,” Mims said.

The resolution was defeated 3-2 with commissioners Ernie Anderson, Archer Wilkins and Herman Wilkerson voting against it.

The board did unanimously approve a measure to allot and budget $50,000 per year for the next 10 years to the Creedmoor Volunteer Fire Department for the purchase of a new ladder truck. The purchase was seen as necessary given the newer multi-story dwellings being currently developed and under proposal.

In appointments, the board appointed Nicole Martin to fill a vacant seat on the Board of Adjustment. Martin was approved unanimously by the commissioners after a ballot vote where she was challenged for the seat by Kevin Brown. Martin is expected to be sworn in at the next Board of Adjustment meeting with her term expiring in January 2021.

The board re-elected David Richardson, Joe Phillips, Robert Stewart, to serve new two-year terms on Parks and Recreation Committee. James Lee and Robin Budine were newly elected to the committee as well and are expected to start later this month.

In recognitions and honors, the board recognized Creedmoor Police Sgt. Robert Varn for his 15 years service to the community. The board also honored the late Thomas C. Jackson with a proclamation from the city. Jackson, a one-term city commissioner, was a fixture at many local and county government meetings in the area before and after his term. Jackson passed away July 3 from complications of a severe heart attack he had in late May.

“Mr. Jackson was an individual that could rub you wrong in a good way and rub you wrong in a bad way,” Wheeler said in his presentation. “But he always knew what he was taking about and I would always listen to his educational suggestions.”

Jackson’s family could not be present to receive the proclamation so commissioners Del Mims, Ed Mims, and Ed Gleason were on-hand to receive it on the family’s behalf.

The next meeting of the Creedmoor Board of Commissioners is scheduled for Sept. 3 at 6 p.m. at Creedmoor City Hall, 111 Masonic St.