Swansboro has fielded a slate of seven candidates for the upcoming municipal election.
Two men are vying for the mayor’s post and five folks will compete for three seats on the board of commissioners.
Mayor John Davis, in seeking re-election to a second term, will be challenged by Dusty Rhodes.
Rhodes narrowly missed landing a seat on the town’s board of commissioners two years ago, coming up 13 votes short of grabbing the special-election seat. It was his first attempt at public office in Swansboro.
In the race for commissioner, incumbents Pat Turner and Larry Philpott will be joined by Lawrence Abalos, Jeff Conaway and Jerry Morse.
Conaway competed for commissioner in 2019. This is the first attempt at public office in Swansboro for Abalos and Morse.
Commissioner Laurent Meilleur, completing his first two-year term on the board, decided to not seek re-election.
“It was a tough choice,” he said. “There is much left to do, especially regarding the budget-balancing and completion of projects.”
In one of the town’s most visible projects – establishing a safe emergency operations center for essential personnel during severe weather events – Meilleur has been a proponent of finding less-expensive alternatives to rebuilding or replacing the town’s Public Safety Facility.
But, he said, the job of commissioner has proven to be too time consuming for him at the moment.
“I have too many obligations currently that prevent me from offering the quality of service I feel obligated to perform,” he said. And, he added, “To be honest, I also found it very frustrating in trying to keep Mayor Davis focused on his responsibility to stay neutral – something that he simply doesn’t understand that he’s obligated to do as meeting chair.”
In reply to that comment, Davis first offered his thanks to Meilleur for taking on the task of being a commissioner and providing input.
“His intellectual prowess and depth of thought was unchallenged on the board,” Davis said in an emailed response.
“I do understand that not all leadership styles are the same,” the mayor continued. “Yet, I was able to bring our community together during Florence, during COVID and most recently during the exit from our COVID restrictions by listening to our residents and supporting our staff to be able to kickoff SwanFest and celebrate July 4.
“I believe as the mayor of Swansboro that it is incumbent upon me to serve the people and bring people together to find solutions.”
So while Meilleur and Davis may have that point of dispute, Meullier said the time required remains his biggest issue.
“The overwhelming reason I choose not to run is time,” he explained. “I hope to retire soon, and perhaps after that I’ll use the classic movie line, ‘I’m back …’”
Candidate filing in Onslow County began at noon on Tuesday, July 6, and ended at noon on Friday, July 16.
Swansboro Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2.
In Swansboro, the terms of the five commissioners are staggered, so three commissioners are elected each biannual election cycle.
The top two vote-getters are elected to four-year terms and the third-place finisher is elected to a two-year term. This format allows the citizens to elect a voting majority every two years. The mayor only votes in the case of a tie.
Davis will complete his four-year term in December.
Turner is at the end of her four-year term while Philpott and Meilleur are at the end of two-year terms. Philpott was elected in 2019 to complete the final two years of Commissioner Angela Clinton’s four-year term following her resignation soon after she was elected in 2017. Meilleur landed a two-year term in his first attempt at elected office in Swansboro.
Commissioners P.J. Pugliese and Frank Tursi, both elected in 2019, are in the midst of their four-year terms.
Citizens who wish to vote in the municipal election must be residents of the town and must be registered to vote. Officials at the Onslow County Board of Elections can provide complete details on registering to vote. The office is at 246 Georgetown Road in Jacksonville. The office is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The phone number is (910) 455-4484.
Email Jimmy Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.