Hodges wields mayor’s gavel

Published 7:12 pm Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Outgoing Washington Mayor Archie Jennings wanted a seamless transition when he handed the gavel to a new mayor. He got it.

That seamless transition occurred Monday night when Jennings declared the Nov. 5 election results officials, stepped down from the mayor’s seat and observed new Mayor Mac “Bear” Hodges take his oaths of office and a new City Council take the reins of city government.

Hodges, moments after being sworn in, thanked Jennings for his assistance in preparing him to assume the mayor’s chair.

“Archie, I want to thank you so much for trying to guide me through the process of staring from nowhere to jumping in the middle. This is like getting in the middle of a big soap opera.,” Hodges said.

“I thank the citizens for letting me have the opportunity to be the mayor for the next two years,” Hodges said.

In an interview, Hodges said improving the economic-development landscape in the city is one of  his priorities as the new mayor. Hodges, a real-estate appraiser, said tourism is an increasingly important segment of that landscape and the city do what it can to expand and enhance its tourism-development efforts. The city has help in that effort, Hodges said, noting that organizations such as the Washington Harbor District Alliance, Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce and similar agencies and nonprofit groups continue to work toward bringing tourists and their dollars to the city and surrounding areas.

Jennings took time to talk about his time on the council and as mayor.

“This has been the greatest blessing of my life. I set out to serve, and I was inspired instead. I can only thank the citizens of Washington for letting me for letting me be your mayor. The team here at the City of Washington, you have no idea how much I’ve enjoyed being your teammate. ,,, It’s been inspiring, something I’ll never forget,” Jennings said.

Jennings, who served two terms on the City Council before serving two terms as mayor, praised the city manager, city attorney and city clerk as being a talented, hard-working group of public servants.

“A lot of (their work) go unsung, but I can tell you their contributions are not insignificant,” he said.

Jennings called the group “the heart of the city.”

“I’ve to go to say to my council, often they said this was a split council. I can’t say that. I say it was a balanced council. For the work we got done, I couldn’t have asked for a better group,” Jennings said.

“I’ll just tell you that that for the job, I’m often told it’s a thankless job. I can’t agree with that. I’ve been thanked more often than I could ever imagine — thanks for my service. Again, it’s been my blessing to serve this city. I would just say in a nutshell, the privilege of being your mayor has been my pleasure,” Jennings said.

Following the tradition of electing the highest vote-getter in the election, the council elected Bobby Roberson as mayor pro tempore. In the absence of the mayor, the mayor pro tempore conducts council meetings and performs other mayoral duties.

The five-member council has a new face, polical newcomer Larry Beeman. The other council members — Doug Mercer, Richard Brooks, William Pitt and Roberson — are veterans.



About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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