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In 3-2 vote, Granite Quarry board decides voters should elect mayor

By Mark Wineka
mark.wineka@salisburypost.com

GRANITE QUARRY — After many starts and stops over more than a year, the Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen finally decided that, yes, voters should elect a mayor separately every election.

But it was close. Mayor Bill Feather had to break a 2-2 tie Monday night by casting the deciding vote for a separate mayoral election, starting this November.

A member of the board for 12 years and mayor since December 2013, Feather said he thought Granite Quarry residents were capable of choosing a mayor on their own.

“A lot of thought has gone into it,” Feather added of all the discussions leading up to Monday’s vote.

Siding with Feather on the final vote were Alderman Arin Wilhelm and Alderwoman Mary Ponds. Aldermen Mike Brinkley and Jim LaFevers wanted the election process to stay the way it is.

At present, aldermen choose a mayor among themselves at their first meeting after every municipal election, which falls every two years. Brinkley reiterated his long-held position that the current method has worked well for decades.

“We are elected to make difficult decisions,” Brinkley said, noting the first decision always is to choose a mayor from a newly constituted board.

The voters expect aldermen to be capable of selecting among themselves a mayor best-suited for the job, the same way the Rowan County Board of Commissioners chooses a chairman, Brinkley said.

Brinkley challenged his fellow board members to show him why going to a separate mayoral election will be better.

“We should leave it alone,” LaFevers added.

Before the night’s decisive vote, Brinkley had made a motion, seconded by LaFevers, to table the discussion and effectively put the matter to rest.

But when a vote on that motion came up, Wilhelm and Ponds voted against it, and Feather sided with them, saying the discussion should continue.

Wilhelm then made the motion, seconded by Ponds, to go with the separate mayoral election. After Brinkley and LaFevers voted against that motion, Feather had to break the tie.

The board will now seek to amend the town charter providing for election of a mayor every two years, not four, as had been proposed in past discussions.

Aldermen will continue to serve four-year terms. Leading into Monday’s vote, the board had followed the required timeline. It approved a resolution of intent to consider amending the town charter last Nov. 3, then held a public hearing on the matter Dec. 1.

The public hearing also was properly advertised.

A mayor and two aldermen will be elected this year. The mayor’s position and the two other aldermen seats would be up for election in 2017.

The recent votes for mayor among aldermen had presented some uncomfortable situations for Feather and Ponds who both were interested in the job.

With aldermen’s choice of Feather in 2013, it ended Ponds’ long run as mayor, but it also led to the board’s looking seriously at the separate mayor election.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

 

 

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