Linda Blackburn (right) accepts the oath of office as a member of the Ahoskie Town Council from Town Clerk Joleatha Chestnutt. Blackburn was appointed by Council to fill the unexpired term of O.S. “Buck” Suiter Jr. who resigned in November. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Archived Story

Blackburn returns

Published 8:41am Thursday, December 13, 2012

AHOSKIE – Three seats to the left….that’s how far Linda Blackburn moved since the last time she sat in a position of authority on the Ahoskie Town Council.

Blackburn, the town’s former Mayor, was sworn in on Tuesday morning as the Council’s choice to replace O.S. “Buck” Suiter Jr. who resigned his seat effective at the close of the board’s November meeting. Suiter had one-year remaining on his four-year term.

“Thank-you to this Council for giving me the opportunity to come back and re-join this team,” Blackburn said later in the meeting. “I’ve always been a team player and that hasn’t changed during the year I’ve been away from you. I look forward to this opportunity to serve this town.”

Blackburn added that she was very aware of the size of the shoes she has been asked to fill.

“I’m very humbled to be sitting here in this particular seat,” she said. “Mr. Suiter leaves a big seat, big shoes to fill. He brought a lot to this table and to the citizens of this town.”

Blackburn also shared remarks on comments she has heard regarding having more young people involved in town government.

“I apologize to ya’ll because I can’t be any younger, but what I do bring to the table is experience,” she stressed. “There’s nothing wrong with experience. What I’m hopeful of is that more young people will start to serve this town, first being appointed to committees and learn from us who are more experienced. That way they can learn the system from the ground up and that will prepare them to take the next step to the seats around this (Council) table.”

Two of Blackburn’s Council colleagues, Elaine Myers and Malcolm Copeland, welcomed their former Mayor back to the board.

“Linda, you do have a big seat there to fill; Mr. Suiter made significant contributions to this town during his many years on this Council,” Myers noted. “But we are very much aware of what you can bring to this table. We welcome you back and look forward to working with you for the betterment of the Town of Ahoskie.”

“Linda, we do welcome you back,” said Copeland. “You are sitting in a big chair, but you did a lot of big things when you were our Mayor; all one has to do is look around this town to see that. You have proven yourself as a leader and a team player and I look forward to working with you as this town continues to grow.”

Blackburn was sworn-in by Joleatha Chestnutt, clerk to the Council. She had previously served the town as its Mayor over an eight-year period (2003-11) before being defeated by current Mayor Brien Lassiter during the 2011 municipal election.

In another matter addressed by the Council in regards to Suiter’s resignation, they needed to find a replacement since he served the town as its Mayor Pro Tempore. When the floor opened for nominations, Copeland placed the name of Myers into consideration. Councilman Maurice Vann offered a second and Myers was elected Mayor Pro Tempore by a 4-0 vote. Councilman Winfred Hardy was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

Suiter, a 25-year veteran of the board, announced his resignation during the Council’s October 9 meeting. As far as to what led him to resign, Suiter said there were “a whole lot of reasons, but I guess the main one is that I feel that this is the right time. I’ve enjoyed my many years of service here and I’d like to thank the citizens for allowing me to serve them.”

Suiter first joined the Council in 1983, appointed to fill an unexpired term. He was elected to the same seat later that year and earned reelection through 1991 at which time he had to resign due to work-related commitments – traveling statewide through his position with what was then Centura Bank. He was appointed back to the Council in 1994 to fill yet another unexpired term and has served continuously, through numerous elections, until officially resigning at the close of the Council’s Nov. 13 meeting.

  • Mr.R

    …forgive me, I meant the Gallery Theatre.

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  • Mr.R

    Seriously, that was alot of fun to read, the comments that is. I noticed something down there about drawing in certain people into our community and that is about our Earl Theatre. We already have a great theatre that people should remember. Peace.

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  • TheOnlyOne

    O boy you got me there, Schweetheart.

    Drink up! You may as well.

    You’ve got absolutely nothing to lose.

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  • Hears-two-ewe
    • TheOnlyOne

      Have another shot, Linda.

      Soon be coherent enough to realize you’re just not all that.

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      • Hears-two-ewe

        Just for the record, I’m not Linda Blackburn, any more than you are Brien Lassiter.

        Second, you don’t know the meaning of piccadillo, nor can you spell it.

        Oh, by the way, it’s not “O,” it’s “Oh.”

        I get petty at times. We all do. Nevertheless, I don’t consider it petty to suggest that one have enough respect for our native language to learn to use it correctly. With the Internet, help is a click away.

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      • TheOnlyOne

        pec·ca·dil·lo

        /ˌpekəˈdilō/

        Noun
        A small, relatively unimportant offense or sin.

        _______________________________________

        Picadillo (Spanish pronunciation: [pikaˈðiʎo], “mince”) is a traditional dish in many Latin American countries and the Philippines (where it is known as giniling, and also Arroz a la Cubana) that is similar to hash.

        Have a nice crow-eating day… :D

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  • TheOnlyOne

    To Hears-two-ewe:

    You were oh-so-offended by the things said about Ms. Blackburn but appear to carry a vendetta against Mr. Lassiter and hell-bent on fragging his character. Maybe you’re his wife. Or maybe you’re Linda Blackburn herself, tooting her own horn as she’s so apt to do, never once addressing her failings (or her disastrous affairs and broken moral compass).

    Your statements about how the Wal-Mart will affect this town are absurd, because anyone with a TV and/or the Internet can not escape the knowledge that Wal-Mart decimates small towns and your bloated justifications can’t and won’t deceive us. This wasn’t done for the good of Ahoskie. It was done for the good of Linda Blackburn.

    In fact no matter the project under Blackburn’s tenure, you can bet someone close to her was getting a fat kickback.

    Your voter statistics? All sour grapes. Count it whatever way you please, you still lost and you still need to move on. Ahoskie needs good, thoughtful and compassionate people. NOT bitter pills such as yourself and your “buddy”, Linda Blackburn.

    To all your ramblings I say, don’t get too comfortable in that seat. It won’t last.

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    • Hears-two-ewe

      I see that I’ve provoked you into an angry, thoughless rant, which says far more about you than it does about me.

      Let’s let this end with both of us secure in our beliefs, whether or not they spring from truth.

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      • TheOnlyOne

        Honey, you’re the one who’s angry and hurling rants. First against the writers here who apparently didn’t suit your grammatical peccadilloes and then against the current mayor.

        Of course you would want to end it when you have nothing but insults and envy. O how much it must suck to be so petty and cruel.

        And if you are, in fact, the former mayor, you proved our point: That voting you out was best for us all.

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  • Hears-two-ewe

    All of you are spouting pure baloney, laced with misspellings and poor punctuation, which speaks to the “intellectual” comments you’ve made.

    Linda Blackburn did more for Ahoskie than any mayor in living memory and I have a long memory. It began early in her first term, when she orchestrated the removal of a do-nothing town manager and led the search that found Tony Hammonds, a manager who gets things done.

    The high school renovation, the new sewer plant (required for commercial growth), a new police station, a new fire station, a recreation complex, a Super Wal-Mart commitment and a downtown facade renovation grant program happened with Linda as mayor. Do you actually believe any of this would have happened without persistent, effective mayoral-council behind-the-scenes and out-front leadership?

    Then, the “local boy” mayor was sworn in and quickly found out he couldn’t bully the town manager and town council into firing good department heads or into changing the way our town is governed. So, he ducked back into the shadows of messing with other men’s wives, offering no vision for the future and no initiatives for action to improve where we live. I’ve been told his participation is now at a bare minimum.

    If you ill-informed commenters can’t remember what actually happened with Mayor Blackburn, the least you can do is refrain from writing hurtful inaccuracies about a fine community servant.

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    • TheOnlyOne

      Oh. Right. You must be one in the small group of crones remaining in support of Ms. Blackburn.

      About the Super Walmart coming, oh yes, that will be the final death-knell for Ahoskie, where poor folks can get a job with just enough hours to buy bread and milk, and which will probably kill off the smaller local guys.

      Gee, thanks Linda.

      And the facade renovation program? I recall reading that Mgr. Hammond has never been asked for those matching funds and usually rolls them over into the next year’s budget. As far as facade improvement? Zilch. Nada. Or haven’t you visited the downtown lately?

      Surely we’ve haven’t forgotten Ms. Blackburn’s philandering? Or does this not count since she’s a woman? Linda lost her mayoral seat because she alienated many folks around here and yet she’s oozed herself onto the council, I imagine to attempt to intimidate Mr. Lassiter, and prove us all wrong somehow.

      Ms. Blackburn needs to move on. The voters have spoken. If Mr. Lassiter’s performance is lacking then we, the voters, will replace him.

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      • Hears-two-ewe

        Upgrading an existing Wal-Mart isn’t the same as adding a new one. The losses to which you refer happened years ago, when they first entered Ahoskie.

        Upgrading Wal-Mart might cause some loss of revenue for our chainstore supermarkets, but that’s not local.

        Additional Wal-Mart jobs will far outstrip the loss of jobs in other retail establishments (if any), all of whom pay about the same, except Wal-Mart offers better medical and retirement benefits. Check it out.

        Ownership at Ace Hardware thinks the new Wal-Mart might actually improve their business, because it will draw many more shoppers into the area.

        Increased numbers of shoppers coming into the area will result in more business for local stores and restaurants, not less. It will also produce significantly increased tax revenues for the Town of Ahoskie and Hertford County.

        The facade program has resulted in several Main Street upgrades, which can be verified at Town Hall. It isn’t, nor has it ever been proffered as Main Street restoration, something badly needed. The effect of the facade grants has been marginal, but any improvement from its condition ten years ago, when broken and boarded windows numbered in the hundreds, can’t be called a failure. In my mind, the mere act of doing something, rather than nothing, is cause for kudos to the manager, mayor and council.

        Let’s not lose sight of the fact that “Landslide” Lassiter was elected by a minority of the electorate, receiving 44.87% of the vote, with only 731 total voters in a town of over 5,000 people.

        Most knowledgeable observers believe three things cost Linda the election: (1) David Robertson garnered 141 votes, virtually all by African American voters, the great majority of whom would have voted for Linda, if they hadn’t had the black choice; and (2) the vicious rumors about an affair that never happened, started by Lassiter’s supporters; and(3)being blamed for the increased water and sewer bills brought on by the state-mandated method of paying for the new sewer plant,that is, through user fees.

        Without the new sewer plant (also state mandated), Ahoskie would be unable to grow, resulting in more and more decay and abandonment by its citizens. The 2010 Census showed Ahoskie grew in population for the first time in four decades. This must continue if its citizens are going to have the quality of life they want.

        Of couse, Lassiter’s affair did happen, sad to say, but news of it surfaced after the election, not before it, and with no input by Linda’s supporters.

        Councilman Suiter has family issues that necessitated his retirement from the council. Linda was approached to see if she would be interested in replacing him. She was. Her selection was made according to the laws in place at this time. For many, who watched her performance as mayor, the council’s choice was wise and (I believe) unanimous.

        Of course, the Mayor didn’t have a vote, because the mayor in Ahoskie can vote only to break tie votes by the council. He didn’t know this until after the election, to his great surprise.

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    • nascarkid

      I am so glad you can point out the wrong way of writing. I myself AIN’T no master mind but I do have common sence. It don’t take a rocket Scientist to know she was voted out but only to be put in. If so much has been done by her then where’s the so called jobs. Downtown looks now just like it did back when( Broke down)

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  • nascarkid

    Amazing how we can have the right to vote, vote her out and she still winds up in.

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  • ThomasJefferson

    Yes unfortunately there is inbreeding when it comes to town positions, but don’t blame them! I have yet to see many of the intellectually good people of Ahoskie step up and take it from them.

    The current regime says:
    Raise Taxes (Double taxation City and County)
    Bleed the Wealthy
    Bloat the Payrolls with incompetent officials

    We need:
    People with ideas to step forward
    Cut the Taxes
    Overhaul the Educational System
    Stop fighting money makers like OLF
    Entertain intellectual companies (Apple, Google, IBM. etc)
    Get HIGH Tek industry in here that will grow other HIGH Tek industry… not Nucor and pellet mills!!!!

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    • TheOnlyOne

      Interesting thoughts, TJ.

      But bleed the wealthy? There are wealthy people in Ahoskie? How do you define wealth? As I see it, there are a few upper middle-class that may consider themselves wealthy in relation to the dirt-poor here but wealthy? Nah, not really. They’d be ignored completely in a large city which is probably why they remain here. And even if they were wealthy, lowering taxes isn’t a guarantee they would reinvest in the community. Likely the opposite would happen but this is a myth those who loathe taxes tell themselves.

      As far as encouraging intellectuals to move here we would want to first encourage intellectual activities. There is nothing here for people who are not “church-oriented”. Not even a single art gallery. A glance at the photos from the Christmas Parade reflected many church floats but virtually no civic entries. I suggest putting money into the downtown, perhaps making rental lofts in some of the older buildings, having regular musical events, more theater and more art exhibits.

      How exactly would you go about “overhauling” the education system? If you mean public education then of course this would cost money in the form of taxes and you already believe you’re being taxed too much, so I’m wondering what precisely would an overhaul look like to you?

      I think the best thing we can do now is to encourage conversation, like this, among our townspeople. Surely we can all agree something needs to be done.

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  • ahoskie123

    Let’s see….Mayoral race-lost, State Assembly race-lost, now she gets appointed as a town council member. Ahoskie’s politics have not moved forward but have moved backwards. This town needs “new” blood in order for it to grow. It’s obvious that the majority of the towns council are an old, non-progressive group which impedes the growth of the town. Buck Suiters seat should have been opened to a special election and allowed the People of Ahoskie to select who represents them. It’s the same ole people and the same ole thing.

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    • TheOnlyOne

      The fix was in on this long before it was made public. Just like so much that comes to pass in Ahoskie, cronyism wins the day.

      I believe the only way we can move forward is to take an active role in local politics so that “appointments” such as this one never happen without the will of the people. This council done nothing for Ahoskie and its people other than measures passed to line the pockets of their pals and families.

      Ahoskie will continue on its slow death until we fight back. Linda Blackburn did absolutely nothing to benefit this town, only those things that would put her name on placards. Look at Main Street. No standards. Businesses with no reliable hours. Signs painted on windows which could have been created by kindergartners. Towns that flourish are ones that have standards and rules. A walk down Main Street is testament to Blackburn’s tenure. Not the brass placard in the park. And yet, here she is again, pridefully exclaiming her love for the town and her eagerness to help. Linda we don’t need your brand of help. We need people who actually care more about the town than themselves.

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    • nascarkid

      Why hold another Special election just so more money is spent and voters over looked.

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  • TheOnlyOne

    Ahoskie: One step forward, 100 steps backward. Pity.

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