Clardy wants to take town in different direction

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Makes formal announcement for mayor

By David Meade

After a lot of prayer and making sure he is running for the right reasons, Phillip Clardy formally announced Tuesday that he is running for Mayor of Williamston. Clardy, 40, spoke to about 35 people in front of the Williamston Municipal Center, stating that the first time he ran for the office 13 years ago, he was a lot younger and there were some things he would do differently.

Clardy said even though he has issues with the police department terminating his brother, he is “not running to settle a score” but instead is running for the same reasons as before.

That he said, is the leadership “not acting in the best interest of our town and I desire to take it in a different direction.”

Clardy said after losing the last election, he took time away from the town and began to hear and see things as a citizen.

He said recently he has brought several issues and evidence of problems to town officials. “Most have fallen on deaf ears. I took needs to the mayor and council, and now to you the citizens,” he said. “You are the ultimate deciders.”

Clardy said there are two things he wants to address if elected, high water bills and the atmosphere in the town.

Clardy said that he has heard from several business owners that the actions of the police department are resulting in the atmosphere for growth being snuffed out.

“The leadership should create an environment that they (the police) are there for them, not against them.”

He also said that police officers should be local.

Clardy said that he supports the current economic development push for industry but also said that one of the strengths of Williamston is that it is “a small quaint bedroom community, a good place to raise children, retire and enjoy life.”

He said the town needs to create an atmosphere where businesses can thrive and that he supports buying local.

“I don’t need an industry,” he said, “I need a grocery store. We need to get that base back in our community.”

Clardy said that the town’s high water rates are one deterrent to a grocery store locating here and that providing a friendly, safe town will help create an economic basis.

Clardy also said that a town the size of Williamston does not need a full time administrator and an accountant in addition to a clerk-treasurer and other support staff.

Clardy acknowledged the past, which at times included turmoil and critics. “I am what I am,” he said. “I hope I’ve grown. I can take the punches, by the grace of God.” During his eight years as Williamston’s mayor, Clardy said he tried to do what was in the best interest of the town and what was in his heart.

Clardy said one of the things he would have done differently when he was in office, would be to try to convey to citizens the financial condition of the town sooner, and not waited until it got critical.

Clardy said there were “things beyond our control” that led to the town’s financial crisis while he was in office including increasing insurance rates and the distractions of numerous investigations.

“I wish I had kept the public more informed,” he said. “Then my critics jumped on it and used it against me.”

Clardy said that some of the fees and funds, particularly the hospitality tax fund, that were implemented when he was in office helped get the town into the financial shape it is in today.

He challenged that comparing the town’s financials for 1998 before he was elected to 2008 when he left office, would show that the town was in better shape when he left. “It was in better financial shape than I found it when I took office,” he said.

He said he would like to see Williamston become the best it can be and not focus on others.

“We need to focus on our businesses and make them strong,” he said. “We can capitalize on that.”

Clardy said that the one thing he wants to accomplish if elected is what he wanted to do the first time. That, he said, “Is to improve the town and its reputation.”