Zebulon Town Manager Rick Hardin’s weekend arrest for driving while impaired is a disappointment to those who like Hardin on a personal or professional level. It must be especially difficult for a town board that fully supported him seven years ago when the same thing happened. But the town must move on.
Hardin, who was convicted of a similar offense in 2007, didn’t suffer any professional consequences then. As of this writing, it seems likely the town will have parted ways with Hardin.
Hardin has proven himself to be a capable manager, able to lead the town through the trying times of a recession and shrinking revenues that forced the town to put off some projects and edge cautiously into others.
Commissioners were set to meet Friday to approve a separation agreement with Hardin. It’s a sad move, but the right one. If the town had wanted to, it could have simply terminated Hardin’s employment on Monday night and washed its hands of the embarrassment. Instead, officials rightly opted to suspend their manager, presumably to work out the details of his departure. We hope those details will offer Hardin counseling and access to other resources to overcome his shortcomings.
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Hardin’s talents can perhaps be useful in another community if he can avoid these kinds of problems going forward. But any number of DWIs shows incredibly bad judgment, bad judgment, Zebulon can no long afford to have in its public officials. Fortunately for everyone, his indiscretions haven’t caused harm to anyone else on the road with him.
The time has come now for Hardin’s tenure in Zebulon to come to an end, but we hope the town’s commitment to him, on a personal level, will not.