7/10/19: POLITICS AS USUAL: MURPHY BESTS PERRY IN RUNOFF; TOWN COUNCIL MAJORITY CHARGES THROUGH ITS AGENDA (More to Come)

dogwoodtrail
South Dogwood Trail, looking north

N.C. State Representative Greg Murphy, who is a urologist in Greenville, defeated first-time candidate Joan Perry, a Kinston pediatrician, in yesterday’s runoff election for the Republican nomination in North Carolina’s third U.S. Congressional district.

With all precincts reporting, Dr. Murphy had 59.7 percent of the vote, which represented nearly 7,000 votes more than Dr. Perry.

According to the Raleigh News & Observer, 312,562 voters were eligible to vote in yesterday’s second primary, but only 11.5 percent of them did.

Dr. Murphy will face Democrat Allen Thomas, Libertarian Tim Harris, and Constitution Party candidate Greg Holt in a special election Sept. 10. The winner will serve out the two-year term of the late Congressman Walter B. Jones Jr., who was reelected to the third district seat last November and died in February.

CLOSER TO HOME . . . Last night’s Town Council meeting was both politically charged and divisive, and at times seemed more like a campaign rally than an ordered meeting of a government body. The boisterous crowd in attendance, seemingly drawn by the prospect of special-event regulation in town, often applauded public speakers.

For the second time in as many Council meetings, Mayor Tom Bennett did not enforce his well-known—and heretofore rigidly applied—rule requiring people who speak during the two general public-comment periods to sign up before the meeting.

On June 4, the Mayor made an exception for Porter Graham, the new lobbyist for the Outer Banks realtors and home builders association, whose highly inflammatory and factually inaccurate opinion piece in The Outer Banks Voice incited a pushback on “special events” from people in the real estate and/or tourism industries.

The Beacon is a strong proponent of the First Amendment; but we are just as strongly opposed to writing falsehoods and propagating misinformation.

The Beacon will publish a full report of the meeting later in the week. Among the results were:

*A 3-2 decision to take no further action now on the possible regulation of special events in Southern Shores residences, an about-face from the posture the Council unanimously took June 4 when it directed the Town Attorney and the Town Planning Director to prepare a proposed Town Code amendment and the Planning Board to have a “community discussion,” as Councilman Jim Conners phrased it;

*A 3-2 decision to move ahead swiftly with the South Dogwood Trail sidewalk project— with no design modifications—seeking construction bids and giving Town Manager Peter Rascoe “sole discretion” for project management, according to a lengthy prepared motion that Councilman Conners read as soon as the perfunctory public hearing was over (The Beacon will quote this motion in full after the meeting videotape is available);

*A decision to table the Planning Board’s unanimously approved latest effort to address nonconforming lots, known as zoning text amendment 18-09PB01, until December, when Councilman Christopher Nason, who has had reason to recuse himself from voting on nonconforming-lot ZTAs and who made the motion, will no longer be in office; and

*A unanimous vote to approve, without any comment or discussion, Mayor Bennett’s motion to reappoint Elizabeth Morey to a three-year regular term on the Planning Board and to appoint the Mayor’s friend and Southern Shores newcomer Donald D. Sowder to the other vacant three-year regular membership on the Planning Board and highly qualified longtime homeowner Tony DiBernardo to a three-year alternate term on the Board. (Yes, there’s opinion in that statement, and it goes to cronyism. At the very least, the Council should have discussed the relative qualifications of the candidates.)

For background and context for last night’s meeting, please see The Beacon’s preview posted 7/7/19.

AS OF THIS MORNING, only two candidates had filed with the Dare County Board of Elections for the three four-year terms on the Town Council that are expiring this year. Both Councilmen Gary McDonald and Fred Newberry have filed for reelection. As previously reported, Councilman Christopher Nason has announced that he is not seeking another term. Mayor Bennett and Councilman Conners were elected in 2017.

The Board of Elections’ candidate filing period for the three nonpartisan Town Council offices continues until noon on July 19.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 7/10/19

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