Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8, with municipal elections in several towns in Richmond County, including Rockingham, Hamlet, Ellerbe, Norman and Hoffman.
Rockingham candidates were featured in Friday’s newspaper.
The Daily Journal sent questionnaires to all of the municipal candidates. Not all of the candidates chose to answer the questionnaire. Of those who did, their responses will be included in this report.
In Hamlet, two men are running for mayor, while four candidates vie for three seats on the Hamlet City Council. Jeff Smart and Jesse McQueen are running against each other for mayor. Dewey L. Brower, Johnathan M. Buie, Tony Clewis and Pat Preslar are running for council.
Smart, 40, lives on Trestle Street in Hamlet, and is the city’s current mayor. He is the business manager/partner at Mabry’s Drug and Home Care in downtown Hamlet.
“I truly appreciate the confidence that the citizens of Hamlet placed in me by electing me as mayor for the first time in November 2007 and again in November 2009,” said Smart, adding that he’s very proud of accomplishments during his time in office.
“Even though our nation and our world continue to see difficult times, I am proud to say that Hamlet is holding its own. We continue to do as much as we possibly can while working within our financial capabilities. Over the last four years, we have not increased taxes for extra revenue. We have controlled our expenses and have been able to use grants from state and federal sources in order to accomplish projects in our city while spending a minimum amount of local money,” Smart said.
Asked about plans if reelected, Smart said. “We will continue to focus on cleaning up our city by putting more manpower and machinery on our streets. We will continue to approach the owners of the dilapidated and abandoned structures throughout our city and demand action … We will continue to invest in our children by upgrading and expanding our parks and recreation facilities and programs … to invest in our Senior Citizen Center so that our Senior Adults will have a place to go for entertainment … to invest in projects throughout our downtown areas in order to support our business partners as well as to provide entertainment for our citizens.”
Smart added, “I continue to be excited about our future in Hamlet and will continue my efforts to make our city a better place to live, work, and play.”
McQueen, 40, who lives on Battley Dairy Road, is the owner and operator of G & B Distributing, Inc. He served on the Hamlet City Council from 2005-2009.
Asked for his plans if elected, McQueen said, “Listen to the citizens of Hamlet, encourage cooperation between the City of Hamlet and other governmental agencies, be a good steward of taxpayer funds, ensure fairness and equality to all citizens and support all Hamlet businesses — the city needs to shop locally if at all possible — this helps keep businesses in Hamlet open.”
McQueen also said, “I have focused this election on listening to the citizens of Hamlet, especially our senior citizens. I would love to see Hamlet work on beautification of the entire city. The first thing I will work on will be to repeal the newly imposed fee for discarding certain types of garbage. The citizens of Hamlet already pay city and county taxes … I am fortunate to have made Hamlet my home town. I look forward to serving the City of Hamlet again, as mayor. I want to make a difference for Hamlet.”
Brower, 56, lives on Pine Street. He is the owner of Brower Taxi Service and Brower Travel Agency in Hamlet. Brower once served on the Richmond County Soil and Water Board.
“If elected i will do my best to work for the people and City of Hamlet, and will listen to concerns and ideas that the people give me. I will try to get an answer to questions that the people ask … and I will continue working to make Hamlet a better place,” said Brower.
Buie, 30, lives on Signal Street and works for CSX.
“If elected Hamlet Councilman I will bring new ideas that will help our community grow. I have coached soccer over the past seven years for the Hamlet recreational league. I would like to see our recreational programs continue to grow and also work to make our parks bigger for families to enjoy together. Our community has lots of potential to grow and with an open mind with fresh ideas I believe together we can make Hamlet an even better place to live, work, and play,” said Buie.
Preslar, 45, lives on Raintree Road, and works as a special agent for the NC Alcohol Law Enforcement Division Office.
He has been a member of the Hamlet City Council since 1999.
“Over the last 12 years I have witnessed the city take on a can-do attitude,” said Preslar “This positive attitude has in turn allowed us to upgrade the walking trail at the City Lake, repair the Hamlet Water Lake Dam, renovate the Hamlet Passenger Depot & Museum, Tornado Building & Stinson Building (Depot Complex), improve our recreational opportunities and make extensive upgrades to our aging infrastructure. Faced with several challenges, the City Council and city staff have cooperatively worked to do more with less and without compromising the quality or level of service that our residents deserve and expect.”
If reelected, Preslar said he plans to: Remain committed to upholding sound budgetary practices because it affords the city the opportunity to maintain current levels of service without increases in fees to our residents; maintain the positive momentum that we have established so that the community can see that we are truly “The Little Town that Can”; strive to regularly evaluate our services and programs to ensure that we are maximizing our resources as well as our potential; make every effort to address quality of life concerns by continuing to enhance our parks & recreation programs, senior center, public safety, public services and public utilities; and continue to represent the interests of all of the citizens of Hamlet.
In Hamlet, voters have two places to cast ballots: First Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, located at 300 Charlotte St., is for voters registered in Marks Creek #1 Precinct; and the First Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall located at 200 Rice St. is for voters registered in Marks Creek #2 Precinct.
In Ellerbe, incumbent Mayor Olivia Webb is running unopposed for reelection, while Jim Lane and John Sears Jr. are running for Town Council, and James “Buddy” Cooper is running for the seat on council that he took over from Jerry Meacham when Meacham resigned in January 2010.
Webb, 27, lives on West Page Street in Ellerbe. She is the executive director of the Richmond Community College Foundation. She’s been mayor since December 2009.
Her plans upon reelection: ” … my most pressing responsibility is to help see the Ellerbe-Rockingham-Richmond County Wastewater Regionalization Project through to completion,” she said.
Webb also said, “I also plan to continue working with the Ellerbe Town Council and local authorities to find proactive solutions for Ellerbe’s code enforcement, animal control and community safety issues … I feel that I have worked hard over the past two years to help the council respond to the needs of our community. I truly believe that I have tried my best and done a good job. With two years of experience under my belt, I think that another two-year term would enable me to facilitate the completion of currently pending projects, most of which involve basic municipal services. My ultimate goal is to get Ellerbe into a position where the council is freed up to focus on things like community revitalization and beautification.”
Lane is making his first bid for elective office in running for Town Council in Ellerbe. He and his wife own Ellerbe Springs Inn and Pork Belly’s BBQ restaurant.
“The Town of Ellerbe, like a lot of small towns, is growing in the wrong direction both in population and job growth. My plan would be to work with tourism and the Chamber of Commerce to see Exit 11 off the new highway become the main Ellerbe exit,” Lane said.
“You see the Rankin Museum, The Indian Mounds, Little River Wines, the new 4H museum at Camp Millstone, Dewitts Sporting Clays, the ‘Rock’ Speedway, the historical Ellerbe Springs Inn, the Bostic School, David’s Produce, the lawnmower races, Farm City Week, all are tourist draws to Ellerbe.
“I would also investigate the possibilities of a Andre the Giant and Benny Parsons museum in the vacated rest stop at the corner of Hwy 73 and Business 220. If you do a Google search for Ellerbe NC, click on Wikipedia, the third sentence, ‘best known as the home of Andre the Giant,’ and we don’t have anything that acknowledges him,” said Lane.
Lane said he’d also like to see minutes of the monthly town hall meetings, local arrests and other crimes in Ellerbe be available online, as well elected officials’ email addresses and phone numbers.
To vote in Ellerbe, head to the poll at Ellerbe Town Hall, 108 W. Page St.
In the Town of Norman, Kenneth Broadway is running for mayor. Stephen D. Cranford and Cynthia Ingram are running for Town Council.
Broadway, 53, is self-employed and is making his first run for public office.
“My plans are to try to get the town to be recognized. I don’t know what the county can exactly help with, we need growth, like all other small towns … the economy is not so good,” he said.
“With the Norman Festival, and the classic car show (planned for) 2012, we are hoping maybe someone could see a use for growth in Norman, for instance we have two good exits. One exit is for town, ideal for a huge truck stop, then things could grow from there … restaurants, maybe a warehouse distribution, something in the poultry field. I know we would need sewer and other things, when the economy starts growing, I hope we can get on board and not be left behind,” Broadway said.
Cranford, 56, works for Walmart in Aberdeen. He is running for reelection to the Town Council. He also serves as mayor pro tem.
“If reelected, my plans are to get town ordinances established. Also try to get the people of Norman more interested in the town. To try to bring more life back to the town and to bring in some type of industry, and to be there for the people and town,” Cranford said.
Ingram, 41, is a teacher. She is running for a second term on the Town Council.
“I plan to help Norman come up with strategies to sustain and maintain its identity during this tough economic time,” said Ingram.
To vote in the town of Norman, voters will need to head to the Norman Community Center at 107 E. Moore St.
In Hoffman, Jo Ann Jasper Thomas is running for mayor. Lee P. Butler, Tommy Hart, Rory Kevin Jones and Daniel Kelly are running for Town Council.
Voters in Hoffman will also get to vote on two issues. Voters will choose if they are for or against permitting the “on-premises” and “off-premises” sale of unfortified wine. Voters will also be able to choose if they are for or against the sale of mixed beverages in hotels, restaurants, private clubs, community theaters and convention centers.
To vote in Hoffman, registered voters must go to Fletcher’s Chapel United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall at 108 McCoy Drive.
For more information, contact the Board of Elections at 910-997-8254.