Thursday, 02 November 2017 09:38

ELECTION COVERAGE: Hamlet Candidate Preview

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Hamlet Election Preview: City Council candidates Jesse McQueen, Stephanie Dixon and Jerry Lamont are featured. Hamlet Election Preview: City Council candidates Jesse McQueen, Stephanie Dixon and Jerry Lamont are featured. Photo courtesy of The Richmond Observer.

HAMLET – Seeing that this is not a presidential election year, local elections are taking over headlines. Richmond County will hold municipal elections for the various towns throughout the county next week, on Tuesday, November 7.

Hamlet and Ellerbe are the elections to watch, given the fact that multiple incumbents in either municipality will face challengers. The mayors of Ellerbe, Hamlet, Hoffman and Rockingham can also rest easy, as they are all running without opposition.

With the election fast approaching, the Richmond Observer wishes to give each candidate a platform to communicate with the residents of Richmond County one last time before casting their votes. Not all candidates chose to respond, but they were all presented with the opportunity.

 In today’s edition, the RO will focus on the candidates running for office in Hamlet. Read the profile of each candidate to better inform your decision for the election.

Mayor Bill Bayless is running unopposed. But in regard to City Council members, incumbents Eddie Martin and Jesse McQueen are vying for re-election over new opponents Stephanie Dixon and Jerry Dean Lamont. 

Below are responses from McQueen, Dixon and Lamont. All candidates were asked the same questions and given the same opportunity to respond.

 

 Jesse McQueen

Age: 46

Office: City Council (Re-Election)

Resident of Hamlet for 26 years

Why are you running for city council? For those of you not running for the first time, please state why do you wish to continue to hold that position?

I am running for (Hamlet) City Council to continue the progress we have achieved over the past four years.  Those accomplishments include: raising police officer pay to that of neighboring agencies (this was needed for officer retention), improving city equipment, hiring a professional law firm to represent Hamlet, improving the quality of life for City residents by updating playgrounds, balancing budgets each year that has resulted in fund balance of $2,277,520, or 42.3 percent of our annual expenses (the state mandates cities have 8% in this fund), and removing several dilapidated structures. 

We have also hired a great city manager (Jonathan Blanton), who has worked diligently to help Hamlet.  It has also been a focus of myself to update policy and apply that policy fairly to everyone.  Some of these antiquated policies were 40 years old.  

How will your experience, background knowledge, and unique abilities help you to best serve the city if re-elected to council?

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and a Master’s degree in Public Administration, with a concentration in Criminal Justice also from UNCP.  I am a member of the Phi Alpha Alpha National Honors Society for Public Administrators.

I also have been awarded the Advanced Law Enforcement Certificate from the North Carolina Criminal Justice and Training Standards.  I have eight years of experience on the Hamlet City Council.  I feel one of my strongest assets is my communication skills. I enjoy helping the citizens of Hamlet and helping solve their problems.  I am proud that I have a great relationship with other municipalities and the county.  I am a firm believer of cooperation between these agencies.

What is your opinion of your opponent, and what challenges does he/she present?

McQueen chose not to make a comment to this question.

 

Stephanie Dixon

Age: 27

Office: City Council

Resident of Hamlet for 6 years

Why are you running for city council?

I love Hamlet and our small town niche, but it saddens me to see what could be a prosperous and growing town begin to stagnate. I want to help bring businesses back to Hamlet, especially small local businesses.

We have so many buildings just sitting idle and it seems like just a shame. A lot of these buildings have history and character and could be a wonderful business again, but they just sit vacant year after year. I want to make help make changes that will make people not only want to stay here, but want to come here.

Hamlet, a long time ago, was a busy and bustling place full of life, full of people, and full of dreams. I look forward to working toward, and seeing Hamlet, resemble its heyday once again.

How will your experience, background knowledge, and unique abilities help you to best serve the city if elected to council?

I have volunteered with the City and the local community, and through this I have learned a lot about Hamlet, the City officials, and the citizens. I look forward to utilizing this information for Hamlet. I am a regular, everyday working class citizen. With that, and my younger perspective, I believe that I have the insight to keep Hamlet going in a positive direction, to bring in more events, more people, more business.

I think it is important to work hard to keep the younger generation here and bring them back after college. That younger generation is the next generation of business owners, entrepreneurs, and even City Council. They are the future of Hamlet. 

Hamlet’s future, like its past is vital. Hamlet needs change and direction. We need to work together as a community to bring about a bright future, and to do that we need to try new things. By volunteering with the City and assisting with events in the communities, I have learned that because things have always been a certain way or done a certain way doesn't mean that there isn't a better way. I want us to find that better way together.

What is your opinion of your opponent, and what challenges does he/she present?

My opponents have experience in City Council and I do not, I’ll be the first to admit that. I am ready to learn everything I don’t know and ready to utilize everything that I do. Although experience can be vital in some circumstances, it can also be too much of a good thing. I think that it is time for a change, and time to see where that change can take us.

 

Jerry Dean Lamont

Age: 64

Office: City Council

Resident of Hamlet for 60 years

Why are you running for city council?

I think it is time for some new blood on the City Council and a new prospective. It's time to start looking out for the citizens of Hamlet and its employees. We need to start doing what is the best for the City of Hamlet.

The citizens of Hamlet need to have a voice in their city. I see things in the City that need to be fixed, but we don't ask city officials to check into it. I think that sometimes there needs to be a discussion before you vote on anything.  

How will your experience, background knowledge, and unique abilities help you to best serve the city if elected to council?

I worked for the city for about 14 years and I understand how the city works. I was involved with Parks and Rec for over 25 years. I started the Hamlet Recreation Booster Club in Hamlet to fund and buy anything that the park might need that the City could not fund.

I still work with Parks and Rec in Hamlet  when I can, or when they call and ask me questions that might come up and need another opinion about Parks and Rec from someone who has been involved in it as long as I have.  I run the cornhole tournament and golf tournament for the Senior Games of Richmond County.  

What is your opinion of your opponent, and what challenges does he/she present?                                                                                                     

As far as my opponents are concerned, I will just stand on my views and opinions and let the citizens of Hamlet make their own opinions about my opponents. I hope that the Hamlet voters will go out and vote with their heart and not because they know a certain person.             

In Friday’s edition of the RO, candidates from Ellerbe will be showcased.                                                                                                            

Last modified on Thursday, 02 November 2017 09:53