Smithfield Mayor John Lampe will not run for a second term in the November election.
Instead, Lampe said he will focus on running his building-supply business, Guy C. Lee Manufacturing Co., which has grown more time consuming as the economy has started to turn around.
That work, Lampe said, will take him on trips to the company’s eight stores around the Carolinas, which would make it hard to commit to regular council meetings and work sessions.
“If it wasn’t for the fact my business is picking up so much, I would have stayed on,” Lampe said. “But I’m going to have to travel, and that makes being at a specific place at a specific time kind of hard.”
Lampe became mayor in December 2013 after running unopposed to succeed Daniel Evans, who decided not to seek reelection. Lampe had previously served eight years as a town councilman, from December 1993 to December 2001.
Being Smithfield’s mayor wasn’t too challenging, Lampe said, because he inherited a good financial situation from Evans and the previous council. That council had passed good budgets for the two years prior to his taking office, Lampe said, and the town had already weathered the toughest stretches of the recession. Lampe attributed a lot of that success to the fiscal restraint of Councilmen Emery Ashley and Perry Harris.
Overall, Lampe had a quiet term as mayor, he said, and that suits his sensibilities just fine.
“I think the good government is less government,” he said. “Most people just want the trash picked up and for police and fire to show up real quick when they call.”
Smithfield’s excellent staff, including Town Manager Paul Sabiston, helped make the job more enjoyable than difficult, Lampe said.
Serving as mayor has had its perks, Lampe said, including the office at Town Hall and the prestige that comes with the title itself. Lampe said he will miss working with the Town Council, which he considers to be a nice group that gets along well together. Most of all, Lampe said he enjoyed learning the intricacies of how the Town of Smithfield runs.
“It was like going to graduate school for two years,” he said. Running a “business is very different; everything is much faster in business.”
The filing period to run for mayor will last from July 6 to July 17, and the election is scheduled for Nov. 3. Lampe will hand over the gavel to his successor at the Dec. 1 council meeting.
To make an effective mayor, Lampe said, a candidate should have age, wisdom, a robust personality and the ability to receive criticism without taking it personally.
Other than handing off the town in as good of shape as he found it, Lampe said he does not see himself having left much of a legacy as Smithfield’s mayor.
“No legacy outside of a bad picture on the wall of Town Hall,” he said, referring to his mayoral portrait.