ROCKINGHAM — During the upcoming municipal election filing period in July, one longtime city leader never made it to the Richmond County Board of Elections.
Councilman Steve Morris decided not to run again and addressed the situation during the August meeting.
Morris said that after 27 years in local government, he felt like it was time to give someone else a chance.
“I’ve enjoyed every time I’ve walked through those doors,” Morris said.
Morris, former owner of Helms Jewelers, was elected to his first four-year term in the late ‘70s and decided not to run again during the next two decades. However, he rejoined the council in 2000 and was appointed mayor in 2013 to fill the unexpired term of Gene McLaurin, who was elected to the N.C. Senate.
Morris lost the mayoral seat to John Hutchinson in the 2021 November election, but was appointed to fill Hutchinson’s unexpired council seat the following January.
With Morris not running, that leaves his seat completely open for the election this coming November.
Councilmen Bennett Deane and Gene Willard both filed for reelection and will face challengers Holly Littlefield Howe and Jeffrey Benson. Hutchinson is running unopposed for the mayor seat, which is up every two years.
Morris said Rockingham was fortunate to have the staff that it does, which serves as the “backbone” of the city’s progress, especially in the past decade: “People don’t realize the work that goes into everything that’s done.”
“I’ve enjoyed the cooperation of working with all of the council…I look forward to doing other things,” Morris continued, saying that he and his wife plan to stay put and not move to the beach “or anywhere else.”
“This is home, this is where our friends are, this is where we’re going to stay,” Morris said. “You have to put up with me for three more months.”