The newest member of the Laurinburg City Council is an old face to those familiar with Scotland County politics.
At council’s meeting on Tuesday long-time public servant JD Willis was unanimously appointed to succeed retiring Councilman Herbert Rainer.
After a build-up to the vote saw several council members questioning the wisdom of continuing the tradition of accepting the nomination of outgoing members without debate, Tuesday night’s vote included no discussion by the board.
Blaming himself for the “lack of foresight” to establish a policy to address council resignations, Mayor Tommy Parker said that he would “take the bullet for this one.”
“I was not on my toes,” Parker said, apologizing for creating an “awkward situation” for the city council.
Rev. Jesse Brunson had also expressed interest in the seat, but the council did not have a chance to vote on him. Councilman Kenton Spencer tried to nominate the Laurinburg pastor, but was told that council would first have to vote on the Willis nomination.
The appointment of Willis was then approved unanimously.
Willis, a former chairman of the county Board of Commissioners, served on the Scotland board for 22 years.
Willis also spent 10 years as the chairman of the social services board, served as the director of the Laurinburg Jaycees, is both a former director and former board member of the Laurinburg-Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce and served on the North Carolina State Family Planning Board.
Willis will be sworn in at council’s September meeting.
Several members of council took the time to thank Rainer for his service, with Spencer even going so far as to vote against accepting the District 1 councilman’s resignation, which passed in spite of his dissent, 4-1.
“It has been a pleasure serving with you,” Spencer told Rainer. “You served with dignity and integrity, and I hope this is not the end of your service.”
Mayor Parker also praised Rainer’s service, saying that the councilman “will be sorely missed.”
In his final address to the board, Rainer said that he is optimistic about the future of the town.
“You have a really strong group of individuals (on the board),” Rainer said. “You have a very intelligent city manager. Continue to support him and Laurinburg will continue to prosper.”
Rainer also said that his retirement plans do not include moving out of town.
As his final act as commissioner, Rainer moved that the board recess until its retreat in September.