PEMBROKE — Frustrated Pembroke residents gave the Town Council an earful on Monday after it failed to appoint someone to fill the seat of deceased Councilman Robert Williamson.
The three councilmen each nominated a person to fill the vacant seat early in Monday’s meeting, but none of the nominations received a second. A nominee would need two of the three votes to be appointed.
“The people and the town expect y’all to do this,” resident Ron Locklear said during the public comment section later in the meeting. “Currently y’all can’t get it together. I don’t know what’s going on, but how long is this gonna take?”
Locklear said residents want answers.
“We don’t want excuses. We don’t want, ‘Well, we’ll do it next month,’” he said. “… I think it’s time for y’all to consider doing something else.”
Williamson was elected in November 2011 but died in February, shortly after taking office. Under a general statute, the remaining council members nominate a candidate, who will then be voted on by the entire council. Councilman Ryan Sampson nominated John Campbell; Councilman Larry Brooks nominated David Jones; and Councilman Allen Dial nominated Laruth Alway.
Gary Strickland, a Maynor Street resident, said the council members failed to “carry out your responsibilities under the law.”
“You all should be ashamed of the fact that you have failed to act for the best interest of the taxpayers of the town of Pembroke,” he said.
Strickland believes the town should hold a special election.
“Y’all didn’t put Bob up there. We did, the people here who voted for him,” he said, adding that “cronyism” and “political posturing” have prevented the council from making a decision.
Teresa Locklear, who ran unsuccessfully for the council in November, seconded a special election.
“Go and put your name on the books if you want to run,” she said. “Let the people vote; let the people decide who they want as their Town Council. But the people you called off, I saw not one person go and pay that fee, get out and walk the streets of Pembroke and ask people to come out and vote for them. I paid almost $2,000 out of my pocket and campaigned.”
Locklear said that each of the nominees on Monday night “had the same opportunity” that she did.
“I’m not asking that you give me the position, but I will say this: If I had not run for that seat, that seat right there, I would not accept it if you offered it to me,” she said. “That would be the best and the right thing to do. But I intend to run.”
Sampson said after the meeting that he empathized with the residents who spoke.
“It’s hard all around, and I hate that we came to a stalemate,” he said, adding that he’d like to see the town’s residents vote on the new council member.
Dial said that an election will not happen.
“I’d like it if the people could elect another, but that’s not the procedure,” he said.
In other action on Monday, the council:
— Held a public hearing on a Community Block Development Grant to repair a lift station on Pine Street.
— Approved use of the town park by Charly Lowry for Dark Water Rising for a concert series the group plans to hold in the park throughout the month of September.
— Heard from Eric Locklear, of Locklear, Locklear and Jacobs LLC, on the N.C. Small Towns Economic Prosperity Program, which drives economic for businesses coming into the town and helps the town complete projects to lure new businesses.
— Suggested that council members bring back nominees to the ABC Board. Two of the board members’ terms are expired, and a third board member has resigned. The town’s ABC store has been closed since October 2008.
— Authorized the town attorney to draft a proclamation for Robeson County’s 225th celebration.
— Approved a deadline extension for Blair Locklear, of Sweet Expressions Cafe, to get the cafe’s parking lot paved by Jan. 1.
— Approved a request by The University of North Carolina at Pembroke to have a parade through the downtown area as part of its homecoming celebration.
— Heard an update on the Recreation Department from Bryan Graham, who announced that one of the town’s All Star teams recently won the World Series for its age group, boys ages 6 to 8, in Richmond, Va.