MAXTON — The turnout for early voting from Maxton, where voters have to travel the farthest to vote early in Lumberton, has been relatively light two weeks into early voting.
Two seats are available on the Maxton Town Board of Commissioners and three candidates are running. Virgil Hutchinson is an incumbent, Victor Womack is a former town commissioner and Donna Locklear is the newcomer.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Robeson County Board of Elections reported 44 votes have been cast in the race.
All three candidates support community and economic development in a town with a glorious past and hopeful future.
“I remember hearing that Count Basie and Cab Calloway played in Maxton, and the streets were so crowded, you could hardly walk down them,” said Womack. “As a youth, I picked cotton and left Maxton at 18 to seek opportunity.”
After a career as a U.S. postal inspector, he retired to his hometown in 1999. He runs a lawn and tree service and earned a college degree from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke in 2005. He also served as president of the town’s Chamber of Commerce.
“Maxton is a nice little town, but very poverty stricken,” Womack said. “I’d like to see it grow.
“I’d like to see neat lawns, well-cared for homes and a busy business district,” he said. “The town needs to boost its self-esteem.”
Putting a strong Board of Commissioners in place and improving the town’s finances are important to the process, he said. Womack is pleased to see the town is working on improving its infrastructure.
Locklear may be a newcomer to municipal politics, but she’s no newcomer to Maxton. A lifelong resident, Locklear is a barber in town, and talks to a lot of people.
“I see a lot of people, and I’d like to give my time back to my community,” Locklear said. “I think getting elected will be hard, but I think I can make Maxton a better place to live and work.
“This is my home and I care about it,” she said. “I’d like to bring jobs back with restaurants and businesses.”
Virgil Hutchinson was appointed to the Board of Commissioners two years ago, and he has enjoyed serving the town.
“We have a good team in place — the board, our mayor, town manager and staff — and I’d like to remain on that team.
“We’ve made a lot of progress, in terms of growth and work on the town’s infrastructure,” he said. “The budget is a good shape and Maxton is poised to take off.”
Hutchinson said the town needs to clean up some of its downtown buildings and put new businesses in them.
“I’d like to keep Maxton dollars in Maxton,” Hutchinson said. “Revitalization can make it happen.”
The Robesonian did not have photographs of Womack and Hutchinson to include with this story. Neither accepted the newspaper’s invitation when they filed for office to provide bio information, a statement and a photograph.
Early voting ends Saturday at 1 p.m., and the polls will be open on Tuesday for those who wish to vote that day.
Scott Bigelow can be reached at 910-416-5649.