Rockingham’s long-time mayor, Gene McLaurin, presided over his last meeting as mayor on Tuesday evening.
McLaurin won a state senate seat in the November General Election, and on Tuesday delivered his one-page letter of resignation to his fellow elected members of the Rockingham City Council.
Council members then each took turns thanking McLaurin for his years of service, and wishing him well as he heads off to Raleigh next month.
“Please accept this letter as my official notice of resignation as Mayor of the City of Rockingham, NC to be effective Friday, January 4, 2013,” McLaurin wrote in his letter addressed to city council, city employees and residents.
“As you know, my resignation is due to my election to the NC Senate-District 25 which includes Scotland, Richmond, Anson, Stanly and the southern portion of Rowan County,” he wrote. “I look forward with humility and excitement to the opportunity of serving in the state senate at this critical time in the history of our great state. Now more than ever we must work together in a bi-partisan manner to make the right decisions for North Carolina and our communities.
“The experience I’ve gained in local government and the values I’ve learned from living and working in this community have prepared me well for this challenge. During the past 15 years that I have been your Mayor, I can honestly say it has been a pleasure because of the teamwork and cooperation we have achieved in Rockingham and Richmond County. I am proud to have played a small part in helping make improvements in our community,” McLaurin wrote.
The mayor went on to thank fellow elected officials throughout Richmond County.
“To Monty Crump and our city employees, thank you for helping me learn what public service should really be about … providing quality services in a positive manner to citizens at a reasonable cost to taxpayers. And to the citizens of Rockingham, it has been an honor and privilege to serve as your Mayor. I will never forget the confidence and trust you placed in me to lead our city,” McLaurin wrote.
McLaurin said that he recently learned he could be sworn in to his new senate job right here at home.
So he has asked Superior Court Judge Tanya Wallace to officially swear him in to the NC Senate at a ceremony at Rockingham City Hall at 2 p.m. on Jan. 4.
Mayor Pro Tem John Hutchinson said, “It’s been an honor to serve with you … thank you for all you’ve done.”
Councilman Bennett Deane III, a former mayor pro tem, said, “Mr. Mayor, it’s been a real pleasure to serve literally by your side … I enjoyed every minute of it.” Deane said McLaurin provided tremendous leadership. On McLaurin’s new job, Deane said, “We expect great things.”
At a future meeting, the council will have to act to accept the resignation and appoint a new mayor, as set forth in the city charter. That person will then serve out the remainder of McLaurin’s current term, through the end of 2013. McLaurin said the City Council could choose the new mayor from among their own ranks, but that isn’t mandatory. He said it is likely the councilmen will select one of their own to be the mayor, and then that would create a vacancy on the council. If that happens, the council would look for a new face to appoint to the position.
In other matters, the council:
• Considered a request from the Rockingham Housing Authority to rename Hood Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. No action was taken, but the council decided to study the matter further and get others involved in that discussion, including an active Martin Luther King Jr. committee. Several members of the community spoke at the meeting and expressed opposition to remaining Hood Street, stating their belief that it was named after Bishop J. W. Hood.
• Heard a presentation of the fiscal year audit for the year ending June 30, 2012, by Ken Anderson, CPA of Anderson, Smith & Wike, PLLC.
— Editor John Charles Robbins can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 13, or by email at email@example.com.