In most cases, town councils proclaim special days, weeks and months without a hint of opposition.
In the past year, for instance, the Selma Town Council has easily and eagerly declared Bill of Rights Day, Firefighters’ Week, Human Rights Week, Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month and more.
Not so as Election Day draws near.
On Tuesday, Councilman William Overby voted against a proclamation declaring Sept. 17-23 as Constitution Week in Selma. The decree, which passed 4-1, commemorates the 228th anniversary of the writing of the United States’ supreme law at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.
After the meeting, Overby clarified that he supports the U.S. Constitution but opposed the specific wording of the resolution – which indicated that it came from Mayor Cheryl Oliver. He also suggested as much during the meeting.
“I’m reading it as it’s just coming from you. The Town Council’s not involved?” Overby asked Oliver once she had finished reading the proclamation.
The Daughters of the American Revolution submitted the proclamation to the town, Oliver said, and that was the wording that the group chose. In ceremonial situations, she said, it is common for mayors to speak on behalf of their towns.
“Generally when we get them and just fill in the name, it’s assumed that the mayor represents the town,” she said. “When we do our own proclamations, we try to include all of the council members.”
With his council seat not up until 2017, Overby has challenged Oliver’s bid for reelection in November. Overby’s contention that Oliver leaves the Town Council out of the loop has been a key plank in his campaign platform. In announcing his mayoral bid, Overby said too many decisions are made between Oliver and Town Manager Jon Barlow.
Jeffrey Watson, who runs Christian Home Health, is also seeking the mayor’s office.
The council agreed to seek a state Small Cities Community Development Block Grant for a $1.15 million sewer project. Selma would contribute $5,000, and the town hired the Wooten Co. to help with its application
The project would lay 1,450 feet of eight-inch gravity sewer line to serve Rick’s Mobile Home Park. It would also make improvements to the Preston Street pump station, including 3,650 feet of eight-inch force main to reroute waste directly into the Johnston County sewer system. Most of the work would occur along Ricks Road and Crocker Street.
Before the council voted on a resolution to apply for the grant, Overby asked to add Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Lacy’s signature to the document. As originally written, it would have carried only the mayor and town manager’s signatures.
“I’d like to tie a third person” to the resolution, Overby said.
That revised motion passed without opposition.