11/02/05 — With Igoe stepping down, Faison will get new mayor

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With Igoe stepping down, Faison will get new mayor

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on November 2, 2005 1:47 PM

With the final day for voting a week away, residents of Faison will have to decide soon whom they want to be in the mayor's office and on the town board.

Incumbent Mayor Bill Igoe said he is not running for another term. Igoe has been involved in town politics since 1962 and has served as mayor of Faison for the past decade.

"I believe I'm at that point when I need to step down," Igoe said. "I'm at that age, and there are other things on the platter."

One of the items on his new agenda is running for a seat on the town board. Igoe is one of seven people running for the three open seats on the board. The mayor said he chose to run because there is unfinished business he wants to see through before he retires from town politics.

In particular, water and sewage were not available in a small development in neighboring Sampson County. Through the help of an engineering firm, Igoe said Faison received a $1 million grant that would allow the town to provide the services. Igoe said he would like to see this project through.

Although Igoe would like to make a difference for his community, he said he has not campaigned as hard as his opponents. He said if he cannot get on the board based on his past achievements, then he is not meant to continue to serve.

"I'm running for the board, and I've got $3.85 in my campaign fund," Igoe said. "I spent every penny of it."

Incumbent J.E. Andrews is seeking re-election for his board seat. Except for one comment, Andrews said he did not want to answer any questions concerning his campaign.

"They've been knowing me for 75 years," he said. "If they wanna vote for me, that's OK. And if not, well then, that's OK."

Sheila Brock, another candidate for the board, also declined a request for an interview.

Alison Johnson wants the chance to serve on the board because she said she believes Faison needs a new vision. She wants to focus on making improvements to the local police department.

In Faison, there are two police officers. Because of the limited number, Johnson said each officer works shifts lasting between 48 and 72 hours. However, their paychecks only include 40 hours per week due to Faison's budget contraints.

By adding one or two officers, Mrs. Johnson said a large burden would be lifted from the officers' shoulders. She should know, considering her husband, Sgt. Chris Johnson, is one of those local police officers.

If given the opportunity to represent Faison, Mrs. Johnson said she would not only want to update the equipment in town, such as computers and software, but she would propose improvements to the buildings on Main Street.

"I want to be the young voice on the board," she said. "I want to bring new life to the board."

Candidate and local businessman Rich Kaiser would also like to see changes in Faison.

"I came here because I like the way it is well-balanced. It is a gracious little town," Kaiser said. "I keep up with the local politics and, when the opportunity arose, I wanted to represent my neighbors."

While in Mississippi helping victims of Hurricane Katrina, Kaiser said he realized small towns in areas that could be damaged by natural disasters, such as Faison, should be prepared for the worst.

Kaiser said he believes Faison could save time and money by installing a wireless backup network. In the event of a natural disaster, town affairs and businesses could be protected.

With his grassroots campaign, he said wants every citizen of Faison to feel they are contributing to making the town a better place. In the near future, Kaiser said he would like to expand industry and make the community more economically viable.

Candidate Lisa Patterson would also like to see the community grow economically. During her time in Faison, she has been involved in many organizations including the Faison Improvement Group, Faison Beautification Committee and has served as chairwoman of the Harvest Day Festival. She said the future for Faison can be bright if the town works together to make it happen.

"Faison, like many small towns, has faced economic and growth challenges," Mrs. Patterson said. "We need to look toward a positive future -- work toward steady growth, which will generate revenue for the town."

Mrs. Patterson's platform includes providing clean water for residents, updating the sewer system, ensuring fair code enforcement, revitalizing downtown, encouraging new business and expanding the police force.

Although many of the candidates said they feel strongly about these issues, Mrs. Patterson has included another issue in her platform.

If elected, she would investigate the possibility of an alternative truck route from the pickle plant. The current route takes trucks through town, and a new route would open up the streets of Faison, Mrs. Patterson said.

The final town board candidate, Bill Creech, said he did not want to discuss the election or his candidacy.

Unlike the town board race, the battle for mayor could be one-sided. Elmer Flake is the only recorded candidate this year.

However, there is a group attempting to write-in Randy Brock, Faison's former police chief, for the mayor's race. Flake said he welcomes the competition and looks forward to next week.

"I feel like I would be able to help the town," Flake said. "I have retired ,and I have the experience. I would put the time and effort into the position."

Flake holds similar stances with other candidates concerning a larger police force, cleaner water and fair enforcement of ordinances. If elected, he would first want to conduct a study of possible uses of the I-40 interchange to create a corridor into Faison. The construction could increase the amount of jobs and tax income that enters city hall, which, in turn, could create revenue for future growth.

Also, Flake said he opposes any regional land fill in Duplin County.

"I would not like anything in our back yard," Flake said, "or our front yard for that matter."