There’s a new sheriff in town.
It might sound cheesy, but that’s about what Jesse McQueen sounded like Tuesday night after earning a seat on the Hamlet City Council with 577 votes. Eddie Martin earned the second of two open seats with 575 votes, with incumbent Dewey Brower (309) and Bert Unger (25) left on the outside looking in.
Bill Bayless, running unopposed for mayor, will replace Jeff Smart. Bayless garnered 749 votes.
McQueen is no stranger to public service. He served near 14 years with the Hamlet Police Department and one four-year term on the council. In 2009, he ran for mayor and lost. On Tuesday, it seemed McQueen was glad to be back.
“Public service has been a passion of mine,” said McQueen, who earned his masters in public administration. “I love helping people. I was not born and raised in Hamlet. I moved here in 1991. Hamlet is home. Hamlet is my children’s home and always will be. I want what’s best for this town.”
McQueen made no bones about his displeasure with the current council’s decision to, less than one month before the election, offer City Manager Marchell David a contract that includes a buyout clause if the city chooses to part ways. It’s the first known contract for a city employee in Hamlet’s history.
“I can’t answer for what the past council did (but) I do question the timing,” McQueen said. “I do question the transparency of that. I do intend on examining not just the contract but the process and the events that led up to the contract.”
McQueen did not say anything negative about David’s job performance and noted that, while on the council from 2005 to 2009, worked well with David.
“I think that speaks volumes,” McQueen said.
Still, “I’m not for giving the city manager a contract. There’s never been a contract before.”
McQueen said the contract ties the hands of the incoming mayor and council should the city choose to move forward in a different direction than the one partly guided by David, who has 20 years of service in Hamlet.
Council (top 2)
Dewey L. Brower (i)309