Voters to decide council seat in special election Tuesday

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By David Meade

Williamston voters will have the opportunity to go back to the polls on Tuesday, Apr. 2 to choose who will represent the town on the Council Ward Two seat. Rockey Burgess and former councilman Mike Looper will face off for the council seat which came open when former Ward Two councilman Dr. R. Mack Durham was elected mayor and took office on Jan. 2. The council term expires Dec. 31, 2014.

Burgess is a lifelong resident of the town and currently owns a business located in the town. He also recently served as head of the town’s election commission. Looper is a former Ward 4 councilman who was defeated in the general election by challenger Otis Scott.

Burgess said his views on issues are not based on petty differences or political favoring but rather on real life experiences and lessons taught by family friends and neighbors, all of whom are Williamston residents. He said his views are based on things like putting God first in your life, an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, paying bills on time, living within your means, loving your neighbors, respecting elders, forgiving others and helping those in need.

Burgess said he is not a pawn of the former administration as some people have heard. “I am no one’s pawn,” he said. “I owe nothing to anyone in this town other than being grateful to our residents for many wonderful experiences and memories. I certainly did not agree with all decision made by the previous administration and when I had differeces with Mr. Crout, he listened and sometimes we just agreed to disagreee, but we discussed those matters like grown men and there was never any fear of retribution.”

“The people in this town who genuinely know me know that I am very vocal and at times brutally honest in my assessments,” Burgess said. “The whole truth isn’t always popular but the whole truth should be told in all matters, our residents deserve no less and with no spin.”

Burgess also addressed his differences and criticism of the current administration.

“I am often asked how I can say I support a person but then not support a person’s actions. It’s very simple, while I do support our current administration and an overall agenda of positive change and growth, I do not support actions that are bad for our town.”

Burgess said the town should make the very best use of the resources provided by taxpayers and use those resources to do the most good for the most residents.

“It is sad to see certain residents benefit from town services just because of who they are or who they know. Our residents deserve equal treatment from our local government regardless of their political or social status.”

Burgess said he has made no promises to anyone and when voting on issues or creating initiatives, he only has to ask one question, “Is this good for the town?”

Burgess said as a community “We should take care of our elderly and look out for one another. If we could all set aside our pride and political differences, we would see that there are things that we could and should do to better our town.”

Mike Looper said he is running for the Ward Two seat to finish projects that did not get accomplished during his first term on Council.

“I have served the town the past four years and did not fulfill all of my plans due to circumstances beyond my control with the past administration,” Looper said. “I plan to do so in the next two years. I still pledge to clean up the town by getting rid of the unsightly, neglected and dangerous buildings and houses in the town.”

Looper said he wants to see the remainder of the sidewalks repaired which he said could have been completed with grant money if used wisely.

He said he will work with the Mayor and Council to address the high water bills that citizens have to pay and would like to see a fenced in toddler playground in the park so that mothers can have two areas for the kids to play on safely.

Looper said he will not vote to raise taxes or water fees if elected.

“It will be an honor to represent Ward Two as I have many friends there. I will also represent the entire town as I did in the past.”

Looper served as the Ward Four councilman and his eligibility to run for the Ward Two seat has been an issue due to questions about where he lives. (See separate story.)

The election is nonpartisan and no party affiliation will be on the ballot. Persons planning to vote in the election must be registered by March 2. All registered voters in the town can vote in the election, not just Ward Two residents.

Polling places will be Williamston Mill Precinct and Cedar Grove Precinct at Calvary Baptist Church. The Williamston Precinct will vote at Palmetto Middle School.