11/07/07 — McDonald will look for next leaders

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McDonald will look for next leaders

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 7, 2007 1:47 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Ray McDonald had tears in his eyes Tuesday evening as precincts began reporting in.

The 70-year-old will tell you he had "no idea" more than 75 percent of Mount Olive voters wanted him back.

But in the end, election night played out much the same as it did during his mayoral campaigns from 1976 to the mid 1980s.

And Thursday, he will take a familiar seat behind a placard reading "Mayor."

McDonald beat out challenger Jessie Jack Faison 529-162.

Not bad for a man who said 'No' months ago when town leaders asked him to replace retiring Ruff Huggins.

"I was just carried away with the vote I got," McDonald said. "I thought it would be a lot closer than that."

The mayor will tell you he has several items on his "to do" list.

Fixing water and sewer woes, cleaning up crime-ridden areas of town and bringing more businesses into Mount Olive are a few.

But his real mission, he said, is arguably the most critical.

"I really hope and pray that we can get some young people to take an interest in our town and run the next time," he said. "The success of our town is about the young people stepping up to the plate."

So don't expect to see the retiree's name on the next ballot.

If that happens, McDonald said he would not have done his job.

"If we, the leaders of our community, don't encourage the young people, they are never going to step up," he said. "They have new ideas, a new way of thinking and a lot of them are better educated than we are."

McDonald knows he will not be around forever -- and neither will some of the older incumbents on the Town Board.

So bringing in "new blood" will be paramount to the success of his term.

But there is still work to do.

McDonald said he hopes to focus on completion of water and sewer projects he initiated years ago.

And toppling crime in the area is key, too.

So as mayor, he will work to ensure proper funding for more officers and equipment is provided to the police department.

"I think they appointed the right chief," he said. "But what they have to do is give him the tools to get the job done. That's not just another vehicle, that's more men, more support."

Creating a safer community for younger generations is a 70-year-old's charge, he said.

So he will repay all those who checked the box by his name Tuesday by working to create just that.

After all, a town that can bring a man to tears is worth fighting for.

"I tell you, I felt as humbled as I have ever felt," McDonald said. "I got emotional, had tears in my eyes. When a 70-year-old can run and people want him back, that's something. I just choked all up."