A time of change is at hand in Taylortown. A new Town Board was sworn in Tuesday with two newcomers joining the board.
It was the first time in almost 30 years that longtime Mayor Ulysses Barrett Jr would not be a member of the council. Barrett was first elected to the council in 1986, serving as mayor for most of the time. He finished sixth in an eight-way race for five available seats.
Moore County Superior Court Clerk Susan Hicks administered the oath of office to both the re-elected and newly elected board members. Newcomer Bridgett Cotton received the most votes, followed by incumbents Marvin Taylor, Mitchell Ratliff and James Thompson. Newcomer Gary Brown claimed the fifth seat.
Taylortown selects its mayor from the council members. This year James Thompson was selected as mayor.
Thompson thanked those who supported him and then pledged “we look forward to working together to move Taylortown forward.”
The meeting started with the presentation of a plaque honoring Barrett’s service to Taylortown.
The plaque was accepted by Barrett’s wife, Diane, who expressed her appreciation for the support the Town had shown over the years to Barrett.
Barrett’s time as mayor was at times controversial and divisive. Barrett was charged with three misdemeanors as a result of an investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation in 2007.
He was charged with fraud, benefitting from a public contract as a public official and holding two public offices simultaneously. The charges were brought because of his work to refurbish a house the town owned, so it could be used for after school programs.
Two of the charges were dismissed without a trial. The fraud charge went to trial and he was acquitted. During this time, his opponents had a majority on the board and replaced him as mayor. After his acquittal, he was reinstated as mayor, and the town voted to pay his legal expenses.
Most recently there were questions concerning the annexation of a house Barrett owned and a looming legal battle with Pinehurst over annexations of some properties that are in Pinehurst’s ETJ.
Additionally, the town has been having major issues with an aging water system, that is prone to frequent and prolonged outages and requires extensive and expensive repairs.
In the days before the election, Cotton urged people to vote. “You say you want change, but if you don’t voice your choice, you can’t complain,” she posted on the Facebook Page Taylortown Speaks.
Speaking at the meeting, Cotton thanked her supporters and added “I look forward to moving forward with transparency and getting the citizens more involved.”
~Written by Local News/Government Reporter Chris Prentice.
Contact him at [email protected] or (910) 639-9303.