LAURINBURG — After missing his scheduled swearing-in as mayor last week, Matthew Block does not anticipate returning to Laurinburg and formally accepting his elected office for another two to three weeks.
Block was originally scheduled to be sworn in during an organizational meeting on Dec. 22. The day prior, Block informed the city that he would not be present, due to an “unforeseen medical matter.”
The meeting went on, with returning council members Mary Jo Adams and Curtis Leak swearing in and council electing Adams as mayor pro tempore.
Calls to Block’s Laurinburg medical practice have not been returned, but the mayor-elect has informed the city that his absence may be prolonged for several more weeks.
“It has been a day to day situation,” Block said in an email. “Due to a family medical emergency, I will be out of town for the next 2-3 weeks. I look forward to being sworn in as the next mayor of Laurinburg in mid to late January.”
Until Block can be sworn in, Mayor Tommy Parker will continue to serve as mayor in accordance with state statute, which directs that: “All city officers, whether elected or appointed, shall continue to hold office until their successors are chosen and qualified.”
Block defeated Parker during the November municipal elections with nearly 60 percent of the vote. Block pledged that he would work to reduce utility rates and try to persuade council to devote its resources to a public recreation center rather than a city hall and police station. He said he also wanted to involve more citizens in the political process and find innovative ways to enhance economic development.
Block, who served as mayor from 2007 to 2011, also campaigned on his past performance — during which the city initiated input sessions for the public, formed the Laurinburg Beautification Committee, hired Ed Burchins as city manager, and increased the number of monthly city council meetings.