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Spencer aldermen torpedo staggered terms

By Hugh Fisher
hfisher@salisburypost.com
SPENCER — When the time came to discuss a referendum on staggered terms for the Spencer Board of Aldermen, one member brought out a visual aid.
Alderman Jeff Morris held up a tube of adhesive called “Power Grab.”
“This is what I think the voters are going to think we’re doing,” Morris said.
Right now, the entire Board of Aldermen comes up for election every two years.
If voters approved staggered terms, four current members would get an additional year or two added to their terms so that the staggered terms could be implemented.
Morris said that voters had rejected staggered terms before.
When voters last had a chance to decide, in 2004, opponents of the measure won out by just 64 votes.
Morris first moved to table the discussion, then changed his motion.
“I move that we reject any idea of extending our terms beyond the current two years,” Morris said.
Alderman Reid Walters seconded the motion.
“And I third it,” Mayor Pro Tem Scott Benfield said, drawing grins and laughs.
In the end, the vote was 5-to-0 against the idea of another staggered terms referendum.
Alderman Tracy Aitken was absent from the meeting.
Asked for his opinion during a recess, Mayor Jody Everhart said he was in favor of “doing what’s right for the board.”
But, he said, having been an alderman in the past, it can take some time to get adjusted to the new position.
Resident Bob Oswald spoke in favor of staggered terms during the public comment segment of the meeting.
And he made nearly the same point.
“Having served on boards before, I know it takes a few months before you feel comfortable speaking,” Oswald said.
But comfortable or not, for the foreseeable future all six of Spencer’s aldermen will continue to be up for re-election at the same time.
And that, Walters said, is how it ought to be.
“When you put yourself out there publicly like this, it holds you accountable,” Walters said.


In other business before the Spencer Board of Aldermen:
• Aldermen voted 5-to-0 to approve a $500 facade grant to Jon E. Palmer, owner of Jon Palmer + Associates Architects at 526 S. Salisbury Ave.
The grant will be used to replace the awnings on the face of the building, which have become tattered with age and due to recent windstorms.
According to the grant application, the same style of awnings will be re-installed.
• A vote to release a request for qualifications for a facilities assessment study was tabled until April’s meeting.
Alderman Jeff Morris asked that the item be removed until preliminary budget information had been received.
He said he feared the town would lose credibility if a request was sent out and then withdrawn.
Aldermen voted 5-to-0 to table the matter.
• Alderman Reid Walters added a discussion to the agenda of the Wil-Cox Bridge project.
He asked the board to consider asking the N.C. Department of Transportation to repaint northbound lanes to include a bicycle lane.
Doing so, he said, would allow them to better take advantage of a proposed greenway leading down to the Wil-Cox Bridge, which will remain closed to vehicle traffic.
A consensus among board members favored doing so; no vote was taken.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.

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