Bladenboro has tough choices to make

Erin Smith Staff writer

September 13, 2013

BLADENBORO — Bladenboro voters will have a chance not only to decide who its leaders will be in November’s general election, they will also have the chance to decide which form of government they prefer.

A petition to change the charter of the town of Bladenboro will appear on the ballot, according to Bladen County Board of Elections Assistant Deputy Director Gina Ward.

“They will be able to vote yes or no,” said Ward.

A vote to change the form of government from the current council-manager to mayor-council would mean the elimination of the town manager position now being held by Delane Jackson.

A petition for a beer and wine referendum, however, was withdrawn, according to Ward.

According to records at the Bladen County Board of Elections, Jens Lutz, who recently served as the Bladen County Democratic Party chairman and is a Bladenboro business owner, filed an application for a notice of petition on May 8.

“He just withdrew it,” said Ward of the petition.

Had the petition moved forward, it would have been the second time in 12 years the town would have decided the matter. The petition, had the matter not been withdrawn, would have needed to garner a minimum of 451 signatures — representing 35 percent of the town’s registered voters — and had to be turned in no later than Aug. 8 in order to be placed on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Appearing on the ballot as candidates for mayor will be Ken Chavis, incumbent Livingston Lewis, and Rufus Duckworth.

For Town Commissioner in Bladenboro, voters may vote for three of the following candidates: Jeff Atkinson, Billy Ray Benson, Curtis Timothy Benton Jr., Steve Bryan, Bud Freeman and Mitchell Hughes.

For more than 40 years, the town of Bladenboro has operated under the two-ward format during elections. Two years ago, an attempt was made to change the format, but was defeated and the town remained the only one in Bladen County to use the two-ward system.

But earlier this year, with a relatively new makeup on the town board, the two-ward system was changed.