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Friday, 12 July 2019 19:45

Collins enters Norman mayoral race; Massagee won't run again for Hamlet council, alleges 'backroom deals'

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With one week left in the filing period for this fall’s municipal elections, the mayor’s race in one town is heating up and one city council member explains why she won’t be running again.

According to documents from the Richmond County Board of Elections, Norman Town Council member Tonia Collins has filed to run as mayor.

Collins, a lifetime Norman resident, has been elected to the council for the past two terms and served previously but resigned due to other responsibilities.

She and her late husband owned and operated the Norman General Store for 15 years. Following his murder, she sold the store and went across the street to Matt’s Shop & Save, where she is now manager.

“I want to better the town,” she told the RO Friday evening. “I want to see a lot of things happen.”

Collins said she isn’t going to make any promises because progress needs the support of the people.

However, she said she would like to see some of the old businesses torn down and bring in new ones.

“I’d like to see Norman come alive again,” she said, adding that there’s nothing for her teenage grandchildren to do. Collins also said she’d like to get the town’s residents more involved so they can “let us know what they want.”

Collins will face Adrian Robson, a newcomer to the political arena, in the mayoral race. He filed last friday, which was the opening day of the two-week period.

Councilman Stephen Cranford has filed to keep his seat, leaving Cynthia Ingram as the only current member yet to file. Collins’ council seat will also be open.

Meanwhile down in Hamlet, City Council member Wendy Massagee issued a statement Friday morning to say why she would not seek re-election.

“Four years ago, I ran to help my community,” she said. “I took my oath of office seriously and was excited to collaborate with other leaders to make a difference. 

“Unfortunately I discovered that ego, grudges, and personal agendas overshadowed the goals of governing in the best interest of the people we serve,” she continued.

“Although I still hope to improve our community, I do not want my name associated with a council whose actions are questionable and where decisions are made with exclusionary backroom deals rather than thoughtful public discussion,” Massagee concluded, thanking the community for the experience of serving. 

Hamlet City Manager Jonathan Blanton responded to her accusations late Friday.

“I am sorry that she feels this way, but there have never been any backroom deals to my knowledge,” he said. “Any official vote of the city council has been done in open session.”

Blanton added that Mayor Bill Bayless, who has also filed for re-election, has been neutral and fair to all council members and “does what’s best for the city.”

Former Hamlet Police Chief Terry Moore is vying for a seat on that town’s City Council. Earlier this year, Moore applied for the position left vacant by the resignation of David Lindsay. That position was filled by Maurice Stuart, who has filed to run for the seat.

Joe Robinson, who was recently appointed to the council vacancy left by Johnathan Buie’s resignation, has also filed for a seat. Buie resigned due to a work transfer.

Two of Hoffman’s elected officials, Rory Jones and Riccardo (Ricky) Anderson, are the only two to file for that town’s council. Everyone on the board — including Mayor Tommy Hart and council members Daniel Kelly, Cynthia Northcutt and John Taylor —  is up for re-election.

Elsie Freeman and Jeremy McKenzie have filed for Ellerbe’s council, as has Joe Grooms.

Ellerbe councilman Fred Cloninger last week submitted his paperwork to run as mayor. Current Mayor Lee Berry has said he will not seek re-election due to a “full plate.”

Two newcomers have entered the Dobbins Heights race. Edward Tender is running for town council and Laperia Andrews is challenging Mayor Antonio Blue, who filed last week.

Council members Barbara Young and Mary Ann Gibson, both up for re-election, have yet to file.

In Rockingham, Mayor Steve Morris and Council members John Hutchinson, Bennett Deane and Anne Edwards have all filed, but currently face no competition.

Filing fees are as follows:

  • Rockingham mayor/ city council - $10
  • Hamlet mayor - $30
  • Hamlet City Council - $10
  • Ellerbe mayor/town commissioner - $10
  • Norman, Dobbins Heights, Hoffman all seats - $5

Filing ends at noon Friday, July, 19.


Last modified on Friday, 12 July 2019 21:14

William R. Toler

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