With his wife Donna holding the Bible, Rockingham Mayor Gene McLaurin was sworn in to begin his eighth term of office on Tuesday evening.
McLaurin was first sworn in to the mayor’s post back in December 1997. He has won reelection since. The terms run for two years.
This was followed by the oath of office to Rockingham City Councilmen A. Eugene Willard, Councilman C. Bennett Deane III, and Councilman John P. Hutchinson, who also won reelection during last month’s municipal election.
After he was sworn in, McLaurin thanked the citizens of Rockingham for reelecting him to another term.
“It is an honor and privilege to serve,” he said.
The mayor went on to say that despite difficult economic times, Rockingham is in sound financial condition. The audit report — which was also delivered at the Tuesday meeting — confirms that fact “as we have added to our fund balance and kept property tax from going up without reducing services or having employee layoffs.”
McLaurin noted the city’s motto, “A City Looking Forward,” means projects like partnering with others to bring Discovery Place KIDS to downtown Rockingham, Hitchcock Creek canoe trail, cooperation with other governmental bodies on the Ellerbe wastewater regionalization project, investments in water distribution and sewer to assist local industries, and continued investments in police and fire protection.
“I look forward to working with city council and city staff for another term,” McLaurin said.
After his swearing in, Deane said he had enjoyed being mayor pro-tem for past eight years but would like to give another council member an opportunity to serve in the role. He then nominated Hutchinson, who was elected unanimously.
McLaurin said Deane did an excellent job as mayor pro-tem, and he’s confident that Hutchinson will also serve well in the position.
The city council recognized John’s dad, Robert Hutchinson and John’s mother, Mary Jo, who were both present at the meeting. Robert served as mayor pro-tem for Rockingham in the 1980s. McLaurin said he believes this is the first time a father and then his son have served in that position.
The council also took care of a handful of housekeeping items, making appointments of Melanie J. Carroll as city attorney; Gwendolyn F. Swinney as city clerk; Sabrina Y. McDonald as deputy city clerk; Travis Billingsley as a delegate to the Lumber River Council of Governments; Gene Willard as alternate delegate to the Lumber River COG; Deane as the city representative to the Richmond Economic Development Corporation; Hutchinson as the ex-officio member of Rockingham Downtown Corporation; and Steve Morris a member to the Richmond County Economic Development Team.