As mayor of the Town of Mocksville, I have the privilege of speaking to students at schools across the county regarding municipal government and civics. I always enjoy the questions elementary students ask about what I do as mayor and their perception versus reality. Due to several questions being asked in various media venues over the past several weeks, I thought it would be beneficial to relay the basics of our local government structure for the readers of our local publication.
All three incorporated municipalities in Davie County (Bermuda Run, Cooleemee and Mocksville) are governed by a Council-Manager form of government. This means that the board hires a manager to operate and run the daily affairs of the town. The five-member boards are responsible for hiring the manager, the town attorney, and the town clerk along with voting on rules and ordinances. They also approve an annual budget presented to them by the town manager. The mayor is responsible for presiding over the meetings and breaking a tie vote only if a board member is absent or recuses himself or herself from voting. The manager is a paid position and a full-time job; this person deals with department heads of the town and concerns of the citizens. Town board members and mayors are not full-time positions and are not considered employees of the town. Most of the board members within the county have full-time jobs elsewhere or are retired citizens of their community. All board business is to be conducted in public and recorded by the town clerk unless it pertains to personnel issues or legal matters which have to be handled in closed session (after making the public aware of the reason for the
closed discussion). Board members can relay concerns of the citizens who elected them to the manager to be taken care of at the discretion of the manager. The power of the board members lies within the board as a unit, and not the members as individuals. Day-to-day operations of the town are administered by the manager and he or she can take direction from the board as a unit after their deliberations in the monthly public meeting. The “ speed of government” is often slow because some decisions can only be considered at a monthly meeting and even then may be tabled to a future meeting.
After explaining all of this information to the students around our county, they are all sitting on the edge of their seats with hands raised anxious to ask questions. This is where I usually disappoint them by letting them know there are no helicopters or limos that I use to get around the town of Mocksville. I do, however, inform them that every board member who serves in our towns and county all want to make this a better place to live. I tell them that instead of sitting back and being critical of how things are being done, maybe one day they too can run for public office and be a part of the process that makes everything run better.
I may be a little biased but I believe Mocksville is the best town in all of North Carolina. Please join me in supporting our board and our staff as they work to provide us with water, sewer services, fire protection, police protection, good city streets, exceptional parks, and a place where our businesses and townspeople can thrive.