Richmond County Daily Journal
The Hamlet City Council is playing musical chairs for this year’s city council election, with one incumbent running for their seat again and two newcomers attempting to pick-up the other.
Abbie Covington, a current council member, is running for her seat as the only incumbent and two local candidates, Jonathan Buie and Diane Honeycutt, will contend for the seat being vacated by Jesse McQueen, who is running for mayor of Hamlet.
“I’m running for the simple fact I want to come in and bring new ideas to the table,” Buie said. “Those new ideas will come from a younger mind.”
Neither Buie nor Honeycutt have prior city government experience, but both feel they can bring something different to the Hamlet City Council.
“I will be unbiased and I don’t have an agenda, but to work with the City of Hamlet,” Honeycutt said.
Buie is a native of Hamlet and works for CSX.
According to Buie, one of the most important facets of his campaign for council member is the city budget.
He said he would like to see money better saved and allocated in more responsible ways.
Likewise, the city should maintain a budget that is not wasteful on the least important things, so the city can begin returning to a reasonable tax rate.
The revitalization of Hamlet as a city through monetary resources and community support will be addressed, according to Buie.
“Stop spending money within the same areas of the City of Hamlet,” Buie said. “Which means focusing on locations that people see when they visit or travel through Hamlet.”
According to Buie, along with the downtown revitalization program, he also wants to see other parts of the city plant flowers, trees and keep up with basic maintenance to buildings and existing structures. Meanwhile, he wants to help spark growth within the community.
“I also want to see parks and recreation grow,” Buie said. “Youth is where the heart of Hamlet is.”
Televising the city council meetings has grown to be a large issue within both city council and mayoral races and Buie wants to bring back the televised meetings.
He said it’s simply too hard to have 300 people come and sit in on the meetings, so it’s a necessity for them to bring back the televised meetings.
Buie also said he wants to maintain an open mind about Hamlet and to be open to new ideas.
“I don’t want you to listen to what I have to say,” Buie said. “I want to listen to what you have to say.”
Honeycutt is a retired president of Richmond Community College and has lived in Hamlet most of her life except for the years she spent going to school.
“I’ve devoted my entire life to working with people and Hamlet,” Honeycutt said. “And this is my chance to do what is best for Hamlet and the city.”
Honeycutt has served on the Richmond County Planning and Board of Adjustment, Pee Dee Workforce Development and serves on several other boards in the Richmond County area.
“I’m new at this (city government), but I’m willing to learn,” Honeycutt said.
She also explained that she wants to see the clean-up efforts in Hamlet continue, so that people will want to come back to Hamlet. As well, she would like to help in bringing new businesses to the city.
“I want to help build Hamlet,” Honeycutt said.
According to Honeycutt, her strong personnel background will support her run for city council, since, “people are most important.”
“I want to be an ear for anyone that needs an ear,” Honeycutt said.
According to Honeycutt, she also wants to improve the budget in the city and see the money spent in ways it needs to be spent.
As the incumbent, Covington says she will be running for city council because, “as a resident of Hamlet for many years, I have a vested interest in our future.”
“I would like to have more success in finding alternative funding for many projects that we would like to see accomplished,” Covington said. “We often get criticized for failing to correct problems that we simply do not have the funding to correct.”
There aren’t many grant opportunities left for Hamlet to apply for, but says she would like to become more knowledgeable about those that are.
“Hamlet is like many other small towns in rural North Carolina,” Covington said. “We face increasing problems without the luxury of increasing resources with which to solve them.”
Covington also wants to make Hamlet a more attractive option for industrial locations.
“The economy is going to improve,” Covington said. “And I would like Hamlet to be in a position to meet the needs of new or expanding industry.”
According to Covington, during her tenure as a member of city council, she has worked diligently to improve the quality of life for employees for the city. Many police officers and city employees qualified for food stamps, despite having a full-time job. Likewise, has helped in the building of new government buildings, senior center and sewage treatment plant.
n Staff writer Bryan Stewart can be reached at 997-3111 ext. 15, or by e-mail at email@example.com.