Wednesday, 27 February 2019 13:19

Stuart chosen to join Hamlet City Council

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Councilman Johnathan Buie, left, speaks with Mayor Bill Bayless and Councilmen Maurice Stuart and Jesse McQueen after Stuart was appointed to fill a vacant seat. Councilman Johnathan Buie, left, speaks with Mayor Bill Bayless and Councilmen Maurice Stuart and Jesse McQueen after Stuart was appointed to fill a vacant seat. Amy Guinn - Richmond Observer

HAMLET — With only one vote against him, Maurice Stuart was elected by the City Council at a special meeting Tuesday night to fill a vacancy on the municipal board.


Stuart replaces Councilman David Lindsay, who recently resigned, citing “personal reasons.”  

The meeting opened with Council members Johnathan Buie and Jesse McQueen commenting as to the “high caliber” of all of the applicants who had indicated an interest in filling the vacant seat, noting the ensuing difficulty associated with making a final choice.

There was discussion about the pros and cons of the two viable methods that could be used to appoint the new council member while following proper protocol for such matters. One approach would be to entertain a motion from a council person, followed by a second and a verbal vote. An alternative would entail the implementation of a written ballot.

McQueen said that he would like to see the Council use the “motion with a second” for appointing the new member. He cited the fact that Mayor Bill Bayless could break the tie if there was one with the motion option, while such would not be feasible with a written ballot, given the number of applicants.  Thus the “motion” method was agreed upon.

Council Member Wendy Massagee indicated that, since a city budget session is scheduled for next week, perhaps a candidate with prior council experience would be best for the position, as familiarity with the budgeting process would be desirable. 

Two of the applicants, Jeff Smart and Joey Jernigan, fit that description. 

Massagee subsequently made a motion that Smart be the nominee, but that motion died as no second was made.

Buie made a motion that Maurice Stuart be appointed and a second was made by Council Member Eddie Martin. A vote was called with McQueen being for Stuart and Massagee against. 

Stuart was the only one of the five applicants to attend the meeting, so he was present to be welcomed to the council immediately.

“I'm so excited to be appointed to the Hamlet City Council,” Stuart said. ”Thank you so much to the fellow council members for this opportunity. I am a native of Hamlet and I have lived in other cities … and I have to say there is no place like home. 

“I am ready to give back to Hamlet what it gave to me. I come from four generations of Hamlet natives and I told my father before he transitioned in 2018 that I would do my part to keep our small town alive.”

“I have a professional background in banking management and human resources,” he continued. ”I've always worked with people. I've done a lot of work in the communities that I have lived in, so for me this is just a natural fit. 

“It's just a continuation of what I've always done but now on a political stage. I'm ready to use my experiences, professional training and education to bring a different perspective to the city of Hamlet.”

Former Police Chief Terry Moore and Seaboard Festival Board Member Diane Mabe also applied for the position.