Mayor’s office up for grabsPublished 8:39pm Tuesday, June 11, 2013
A native son of Washington launched his bid for the mayor’s office today.
Jay MacDonald Hodges III, better known as “Mac” and “Bear,” will run for the post held by two-term Mayor Archie Jennings. After two terms on the city council followed by his tenure as mayor, Jennings decided not to seek reelection in November.
“Essentially it was a family decision,” Jennings said, adding eight years was a fair amount of public service and the coming election seemed an ideal time to pave the way to a smooth and uncontested transition from one administration to the next.
Hodges, who’s lived in Washington all of his life, said he’s ready to step in to help guide the city toward a better future.
“I have lived in Washington all my life and now I have the time to give something back,” Hodges said. “I’d like to be able to help it remain the city we all love, and maybe become an even better place to live and work and retire.”
Hodges has a long resume of service to the community, starting back in 1981 with the Washington Jaycees. Hodges was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine — one of the highest awards given in the state for service — by Gov. Jim Hunt and served as president of the Washington-Beaufort County Board of Realtors and president of the Beaufort County Pirate Club from 1994 to 2000. Over the years, he has been one of the movers and shakers behind the scenes for Washington’s Fourth of July celebration, the Beach Music festivals and the Motown Festival.
A real estate appraiser by trade, Hodges said he has been dedicated to preserving, and revitalizing, the historic downtown business district, serving on first the Citizens for Revitalization steering committee and most recently as a director of the Washington Harbor District Alliance.
“Downtown has still got a lot of empty buildings. Carolina Avenue has some vacancies,” Hodges said. “We’ve got to find ways to recruit new business and figure out how to support existing businesses, which always seems to be a challenge.”
While he’s well-versed in downtown Washington — he was instrumental in the creation of Festival Park, a popular events venue and park on the Washington waterfront — Hodges said he’s studying the issues that affect all residents of Washington in preparation for his mayoral run.
“Overall, I’m trying to get up to speed quickly on the electric rate problem,” he said. “I think that’s one of the major issues that gets to people.”
In a press release from Hodges, he said he continues to seek new ways to showcase and energize Washington and Beaufort County. The latest of those has him working with Washington Police and Fire-Rescue-EMS, the Police Activities League and a variety of other agencies to bring the 14 NFL players to town for a meet and greet from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday on the waterfront, followed by an exhibition basketball game at Washington High School at 8 p.m. and a football camp for boys and girls ages 7 to 17 at WHS Saturday at 8 a.m.
“There’s always room to improve on things, but I think it’s actually a good time to run for mayor,” Hodges said. “I figured I’d just go ahead and put my name out — just get out in front of it.”