HOPE MILLS — The Hope Mills Board of Commissioners voted Monday night to consider altering the terms served by the mayor and Board of Commissioners from two-year to four-year staggered terms.
The vote passed 3-2 in favor of the consideration. Commissioners Bryan Marley, Kenjuana McCray and Grilley Mitchell voted in favor while Commissioners Joanne Scarola and Jerry Legge were opposed.
The vote was the first step to adopting staggered terms, the town attorney told the board.
A public hearing has been set for Feb. 6. Town Attorney Dan Hartzog Jr. told the board the vote on the floor Monday was not to pass the resolution and alter the terms, just to consider it.
“The public must be notified,” Hartzog told the board.
Before the discussion, Legge reminded the board that the idea “was on the ballot about four or five years ago and the people voted it down unanimously.”
“We asked the citizens to vote and they unanimously voted it down, so we know what they would like,’’ Legge told Mayor Jackie Warner. “They want two-year terms, and I think we work for them and I think we should stick to what they want in this case.”
Town Manager Scott Meszaros told board members Monday they could vote on it themselves, but the town does have the ability to bring it back to the people if they get enough signatures to do that.
After Meszaros conferred with Hartzog on the statutes, they determined a signed petition from 10% of registered voters must be obtained in order to bring the vote back to the people.
“What they would do is put the issue on the ballot,” Hartzog said.
Mitchell said he understood Legge’s concern but was open to a new discussion.
“Like Commissioner Legge said, the citizens spoke,’’ Mitchell said. “In reference to this, we actually opened up the floor for the town to speak whether they are for or against. I think we should have the same approach as last time and let the citizens come before the board and present their feelings on this issue.”
Scarola shared her concerns with the board that the vote would appear like a done deal.
“From the outside looking in, it looks like the board has already decided and we are doing this without the input regardless,” Scarola said.
McCray said she was one of the people not in favor of this before. McCray said she has had a change of heart and now that she has more experience serving on the board she sees a four-year term is more beneficial to the town and “it’s hard getting anything accomplished with two-year terms.”
Mitchell said he wants to make sure residents have the opportunity to voice their opinion.
“One thing I will not do is take that choice away from a citizen,” Mitchell said.
Jason Canady covers Hope Mills for CityView. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.