Murfreesboro Council terms to change

Published 11:01 am Friday, September 28, 2012

MURFREESBORO – Registered voters in this historic Hertford County town will witness a change in how they elect their municipal leaders.

At their monthly meeting held Tuesday evening, members of the Murfreesboro Town Council voted 4-1 to change the current terms of office from two to four years. Sarah Wallace, one of two veteran Council members that won reelection in 2011, cast the lone dissenting vote.

Tuesday’s decision was the first step of the process, that of adopting a resolution of intent to amend the Town Charter. The next step is to hold a public hearing on the issue, one scheduled for next month’s Council meeting (6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23).

Murfreesboro officials are following NC General Statute 160A-102 in their effort to amend the Town Charter. That same 160A Statute (section 101) also gives municipal government the authority to change the terms of office of the elected officials.

Murfreesboro Mayor John Hinton explained that the change will be initially noticed in the town’s next municipal election (November of 2013). There, all five council seats and the mayor will be on the ballot, as typical in past elections. However, the results of that election cycle will set the precedent for future elections as the top three vote getters in 2013 will each be awarded four-year terms while the bottom three will be seated for a two-year term. The bottom three will have to seek office again in 2015, if they so choose. A victory in that election cycle earns them a four-year term. The mayor is included in the six-member council.

There will still be a municipal election cycle every two years. However, the staggered terms established in 2013 means that the entire council will not be on the ballot in every two-year election cycle.

“This prevents some of the things that occur in neighboring communities where an entire council is wiped out at one time,” Hinton said. “That is the purpose of this change; there will always be a minimum of two council members, and perhaps the mayor, still on the board during an election cycle.”

Using the results of the 2011 municipal election as an example, if the town had used this new method then of electing their leaders, Hinton (346 votes) along with incumbent Councilwoman Gloria Odum (310 votes), and Council newcomer Craig L. Dennis (266 votes) would have been elected to four-year terms. The two-year terms would have been earned by political newcomer Hal Thomas (263 votes), Wallace (251 votes) and first-time Councilman Randy Roberts (242 votes).

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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