CAPE CARTERET — Commissioner Mike King won’t have to run for election to his appointed seat Tuesday, Nov. 5, thanks to a 4-0 board vote during an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon in the town hall of Dolphin Street.

Mr. King recused himself from the discussion and the vote, and Mayor Dave Fowler votes only to break ties. Three of the four other commissioners, Minnie Truax, Don Miller and Steve Martin, said when they appointed Mr. King in a split vote in December 2017 to replace Commissioner Jerry Ferguson, they had done so with the idea he was being appointed to complete Mr. Ferguson’s four-year term, which expires in 2021.

Commissioner Charlie Evans, who said he would prefer Mr. King stand for election so the “people can have their say,” voted in favor of Thursday’s motion.

The board was advised on the issue by Town Attorney Brett DeSelms, who said although state statute generally says appointed municipal councilmen and commissioners must stand for election in the next election after appointment, the statutes also state that if there is a conflict between the local government charter and the statute, the local board or council can choose either option.

The town’s charter, approved years ago by the state, reads, in part, “If a vacancy occurs in in the office of Mayor or Commissioner, it shall be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term by a majority vote of the remaining members of the board of commissioners. The Mayor and the members of the board of commissioners shall be qualified electors of the town.”

Mr. DeSelms said it was not clear in the board’s December 2017 meeting minutes whether the commission’s intent was to follow state statute or the town charter.

Town Manager Zach Steffey said he thought it was the right thing for the board to make a public declaration of its intent during the December meeting, as did Mayor Dave Fowler.

Mr. Evans said he knew the town could, under its charter, appoint a replacement commissioner to fill all of an unexpired term and also knew it had been done in the past. But, he said, just because it’s been done that way in the past doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

“I have nothing against Mike King,” he added. “We don’t always agree, but we disagree without being disagreeable.”

He said he thought it would be best for the people to vote on whether Mr. King should remain on the board now.

He noted that Mr. King told the News-Times this week he would file for office for the November race if necessary.  

In the end, Mr. Evans went along with the other three commissioners and voted for the motion to follow the charter. The motion was made by Mr. Martin and seconded by Ms. Truax.

There was some acrimony during the discussion.

Mr. Martin pointedly asked Mr. Evans, who has filed to run for mayor Nov. 5, “Why this election is so special” to him.

Mr. Evans replied that he just wanted to let the voters have their say.

“I know in my mind” why the issue came up Wednesday, two days before the municipal filing deadline, Mr. Martin said.

Mr. DeSelms said the need for the meeting arose because the county elections office questioned whether the town was following state statute.

Town Manager Steffey said he got a call from the BOE stating a resident’s complaint triggered the issue.

Mr. Martin responded that “we all know who” made the complaint, but said he wasn’t ready to make that public.

Mayor Dave Fowler, who as of Thursday afternoon has not filed for re-election, said the purpose of the meeting was “not to belittle anyone” and called for the vote.

Earlier in the meeting, he defended the town’s longstanding practice of going by its charter instead of state statute in filling vacant commission seats, noting that he, too, had once been appointed by a Cape Carteret Town Commission and served out an unexpired term.

Resident Will Baker has also filed for the mayor’s race and Patricia Ruddiman and Jeff Waters have filed for commissioner.

Mr. King was one of three commissioners who in January 2018 voted to amend the town’s charter to change from a town administrator form of government to a town manager form, and one of four who voted then to elevate then-Administrator Zach Steffey to the manager post. Those decisions proved controversial.

The other commissioners who voted for the charter change were Mr. Martin, whose seat is not up for election this year, and Ms. Truax, while Mr. Evans and Mr. Miller voted against the changes.

Residents opposing the change hosted a petition drive, ultimately leading to a referendum on the November ballot.

The language on the ballot will state: “Shall the ordinance adopted by the Town of Cape Carteret on October 8, 2018, which would change the Town’s form of government from the current Council-Manager form of government (Town Manager), to a Mayor-Council form of government, be approved? Yes or No.”

Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

(6) comments

Susan 111

Cape Carteret should be named Corrupt Carteret I have lived in this town for 10 years now. I don’t often speak my mind when it comes to government, but this is completely out of hand. In our town, and with our Town governing bodies, we’ve had too many underhanded, sneaky events in the past few years that I no longer can stay silent. We have a corrupt Board, a corrupt Manager, and a corrupt Police Chief. This is all too apparent and it needs to stop. Further, we, as residents and voting citizens, need answers and a VOTE! I’ve watched our Administrator elevated to Town Manager, without consulting the citizens. I’ve seen an extremely vindictive Commissioner, Truax, wreak havoc on a very good police chief because of an issue she had with the law, to the point he was dismissed, again, with no explanation to the citizens........ I see our police force diminishing. I see good officers leaving every time I turn around. I see yet another behind the scenes vote on a decision regarding Commissioner King. This list goes on and on. Cape Carteret was listed as one of the top ten stories of 2018 by the New Times because of this nonsense! Nothing but chaos, agendas and personal vendettas. I moved to Cape Carteret because of its family atmosphere, the school system, the activities, and the community. All this turmoil and all these secrets. Like our citizens don’t matter. Well, I matter. And I am fed up with it all. I WANT OUR TOWN BACK! Susan McCloskey

(Edited by staff.)

John P Ritchie

I find this response kind of funny for two reasons, first a google check of town resident's does not find a Susan McCloskey living in the town, and since she didn't include her address she shows her true colors. Second as the town's planning board chair and an eye witness, yes an eyewitness, to an assault by the former police chief on a citizen, which for the record was captured on the town hall surveillance camera and recorded, you don't know the whole story. You may have moved here but what have you done to make our town better? You sit behind a screen and complain and do nothing, you are the one that is we should be fed up with, no solutions, only complaints. Our town is a great town and we have had a great couple of years with a police department that actually cares for it citizens, actually makes arrests, traffic stops and writes tickets! They file there correct forms when logging drug busts unlike the former department. Did you know that the SBI, State Attorney Generals Office as well as the Sheriff's dept. spent 3 days and took many boxes of evidence. You seem to know nothing about who really was corrupt and as a citizen, you should post your address, quit making false statements that only divide this town more. If you don't like the town move to Pelletier, Bogue or Cedar Point where you can have the same schools just not all the protection from our Police Department 24/7 365 days a week with a smile on their face! Our Town is a great Town, and soon we will be busting at the seems with development, what you going to do then????? I at least am planning for the future which is way more than you ever would do, and for FREE!!!! John P. Ritchie, Planning Board chair and member since 2006, 111 Quail Run in the great town of Cape Carteret, N.C.. and yes I am a proud citizen working for the future...……………….

retiredlife4me

Susan it’s funny how back in November you stated thank god you’re not a citizen of Cape Carteret and that you’re kids go to White Oak. However after research you’re not a citizen and there are no kids with the last name McCloskey at White Oak. Quit trying to push your agenda, the police Chief is very professional and the department isn’t depleted it actually has the most officers it’s had in a while, check your facts. I as a citizen have seen more Police presence in the neighborhoods and more blue lights on vehicles speeding than ever before. Do you follow the PD Facebook and see the numbers they put up every month? No you don’t because people like you and the supposed support Cale Carteret police page on Facebook are trying to push a false agenda. The town is running smoothly and I’ve personally talked to officers who say they love working here and love the Police Chief and Town manager. Leave the town and PD alone and let them do their jobs it’s stressful enough doing what they do then having to listen to a bunch of old regime supporters. You want to talk about corruption look at the old PD not the new. I have checked my facts and they are correct so leave it alone. Not to mention one of the “great” officers that left was forced to resign from Morehead City PD because of reason I will not disclose. We as the majority and actual supporters of Cape Carteret LOVE our town and our Police Department.

Wayne Truax

Now that the filing period is has past within the next few weeks and months, revelations will be made that will clearly show who and what was corrupt in Cape Carteret. The evidence and facts that will be presented will show the former chief was unethical, immoral and in some cases broke rules and the law to further his agenda which was to completely control all aspects of town hall. Anyone who challenged him was dealt with in an mean spirited and unprofessional manner and in one particular case a conspiratorial way. Regardless of the constant misinformation written and posted by the empty shell of Emerald Isle and the pontificate of Peletier, the countless Fakebook postings on the purported "Support Cape Carteret Police" the TRUTH about what really took place will come out. I have a pretty good idea who this Susan McCloskey is as the wording and phrases are consistent with a well known town detractor who hides behind Fakebook and fake names. She and her ilk are the ones who have attempted to corrupt others into believing that the town, some commissioners and town employees are corrupt when in fact they are the corrupt ones. Stay tuned as the facts and circumstances of what really happened as evidenced by police reports, interviews, photographs, videos and public record requests documents are presented. One other thing. I have kept silent due to my wife's position as a town commissioner and victim of the former chief's shenanigans defined as secret or dishonest activities or maneuverings. I no longer have to remain silent.

#fedup

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saltydog

Had to double check and make sure I wasn't on Facebook. [thumbdown]

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