New mayor has promises to keep

A little over a month ago, Matthew Block in the heat of a race for mayor promised to accomplish several of his campaign goals at tonight’s meeting of the Laurinburg City Council.

Block said if elected on Nov. 3, he would make sure the Nov. 17 agenda would include:

— Calling for a motion to reduce electric rates by 10 percent on Dec. 1;

— Calling for a motion to delay any and all expenditures on a New City Hall/Police Station until the next budget year to

allow adequate public input and consideration of all options, including renovation or relocation;

— Calling for a motion to reduce water bill by 20 percent on Dec. 1.

There are a few problems with the forecast for how things will play out tonight.

To start, Block is not yet a member of council. He will not be sworn in as mayor until next month. But even if Block were mayor today, he is not allowed to make motions nor can he cast a vote except to break a tie.

The mayor-elect will have to rely on council members to make his agenda their own. That seems unlikely given the fact the Laurinburg cardiologist has made the current council as much of a campaign opponent as incumbent Mayor Tommy Parker.

Why would council throw out the findings of a recent rate study on why the city can only afford to drop rates by 7 percent, in favor of Block’s argument that it has been misleading the public about the real intentions to build a new City Hall?

Council members made it clear last week that they planned to move ahead with exploring their options on a new municipal building. A 20 percent drop in water utility rates by Dec. 1 appears unrealistic as well.

Mayor-elect Block has pointed to capturing almost 60 percent of the ballots cast on Election Day as a mandate for council to consider the issues he ran on.

But there may be other reasons for Block’s victory like a well-financed campaign; dissatisfaction with Parker; or enthusiastic supporters. If voters were really gun ho about “throwing the bums out,” how did incumbent Curtis Leak win re-election?

For the new mayor to accomplish his goals, he is going to have show more than tell why voters don’t like what council is doing. If residents are opposed to utility rates or new construction, they need to fill up council members’ in-boxes and voice mails. Constituents also need to show up en mass at city meetings and let their concerns be known.

Block won the recent election handily with more than 1,400 votes. But he will need at least three votes to govern.

So far in his campaign to convince his fellow city leaders, he appears to be a political long shot.

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