Mayor Jody McLeod and Councilmen Butch Lawter and Jason Thompson took their oaths of office last week after winning reelection in November.
Together, they have nearly 30 years on the Town Council, with this being the fourth terms for Lawter and McLeod and the second for Thompson. McLeod was also a councilman before running for mayor.
At the wearing-in ceremony, each tipped his hat to supporters and pledged progress for Clayton, though their definitions of progress varied slightly.
“There’s a lot going on in Clayton,” McLeod said. “We’re going to continue to maintain a high level of service for our citizens. That’s our largest drawing – quality services in a timely, affordable fashion.”
The mayor said Clayton spent its last bond referendum buying park property and would now like to see those sites developed. The town is in its best financial shape ever, McLeod said, and he hopes to see the good word of Clayton spread around the region.
“I’d like to see more aggressive marketing and branding of Clayton,” he said. “Clayton sells itself, but there could be a greater focus on marketing and branding.”
For some, progress is a chicken sandwich. Lawter said he had made a promise to a middle school-aged supporter that he’d work to bring Chick-fil-A into town, and the councilman said he’d use the next four years to try to make that happen.
“It seems like yesterday I was taking the oath for the first time, and my son, who was 2 years old at the time, was up here with me,” Lawter said. “It’s been an exciting three terms, and there will be a lot of excitement over the next four years. I’m available if you ever have any question, comments or concerns. I’m always here.”
Thompson credited the work of town staff for making Clayton the best town in North Carolina. In the days after his reelection, he said his first term was something of a learning experience and that he hoped to lead more in the next four years.
“I’d like to thank my fellow councilmen for their guidance and counsel,” Thompson said.
Pointing to his background in law enforcement and emergency services, Thompson said he hoped to make Clayton the safest town in the state.
“If you call the police, they’ll be there in two minutes; if you have a fire, the fire department will be there within five minutes from anywhere in town,” Thompson said. “People out in the county don’t have that luxury.”
McLeod won reelection unopposed, and Lawter and Thompson were the top vote-getters in a five-person race for two council seats. Lawter collected two-thirds of all votes, and Thompson beat out challenger Bobby Bunn by nine votes.
At last week’s meeting, the council reelected Councilman Michael Grannis as mayor pro tem.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdrewjackson