01/12/07 — Seven Springs mayor resigns, citing harassment

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Seven Springs mayor resigns, citing harassment

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on January 12, 2007 1:56 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- Jewel Kilpatrick has resigned as the mayor of Seven Springs, citing harassment from townspeople.

She has resigned before and returned, but Thursday she said, "I am through this time. I won't ever try it again. I've lost 30 pounds since September."

Ms. Kil-patrick said the job is affecting her health. She said she has not been able to eat properly for months because of the stress and has decided it would be best for her to step down.

"The doctors are not sure if it's stress or severe reflux from ulcers -- that come from stress. When I get upset, I get in a mess," said Ms. Kilpatrick, who submitted her letter of resignation Wednesday before a meeting of the town board. She did not attend the meeting that night. Mayor pro tem Steve Potter has since stepped in to become acting mayor.

Ms. Kilpatrick's term would have ended this year.

She was first elected to the town board in the mid-1990s.

"When I first ran for a position on the town board, I had many ideas that I thought would benefit our town. I was a commissioner for two years and felt that I could better serve my community and implement my ideas if I were mayor," Ms. Kilpatrick said in the letter.

She became the mayor, throwing herself into beautification projects until Hurricane Floyd devastated the town in 1999 with flooding from the Neuse River that drove many people from their homes.

Following the flood, she and then acting town manager Charles Snyder aggressively fought to save the town, working with the National Guard and the state and federal governments to get as much help as possible.

Ms. Kilpatrick said she worked many Saturdays with community service workers and had difficulty getting any help from town board members.

Since that time the complaints about her have multiplied, she said. She said a town resident called her to task for using the community service workers in the yards of elderly citizens "even though the board had voted to do it."

She said the same man later accused her son, Sonny Kilpatrick, of voting illegally when he cast a vote in the sanitary district election the same day the municipal election was being held.

He lives in the sanitary district but not the town, and he was accused of voting in the municipal election.

"My children say it's not worth it. Get out. So that's what I'm going to do," Ms. Kilpatrick said.

She said even her dog was picked up in December and taken to the pound.

"We called around to find out where she was and finally found her in Goldsboro," Ms. Kilpatrick said. "He tied her to one of the trucks, and the (animal control officer) saw him and came out .... He said he's not through yet."

She said the harassment has come from more than one person, and that at least one man in town -- whom she would not name publicly -- was making it his mission in life to "aggravate and antagonize me."

Ms. Kilpatrick said there are many facets of the mayor's job that she enjoys, but she said it was not worth the stress, the visits to the doctor and the wear and tear on her family. She said she was following her doctor's advice by resigning as mayor.

"It's not so bad when it's just me," she said. "But when they bring in my family, I can't do it any more."