Maxton swearing in takes on racial tone

First Posted: 1/15/2009

MAXTON - Moment after being sworn-in Tuesday as Maxton's new mayor, Gladys Dean cast the tie-breaking vote that landed James McClan-athan a seat on the town Board of Commissioners.
Dean chose McClan-athan to replace her on the board over the only other nominee for the position, outgoing Mayor Lillie McKoy. McKoy had served 11 years as mayor and five years as a town commissioner.
“The mayor made a strong statement when she broke this tie vote with no consideration of race,” McClanathan said after the meeting.
McClanathan, who will fill the remaining two years of Dean's term on the board, is white. Dean is black, as is McKoy.
“She made the statement that this is going to be a board that is made up of people who can do the best job for Maxton without consideration of race or politics,” McClanathan said.
After being recognized with a resolution for her years of service to the community, Geradine McLaurin, a 16-year member of the commission and two-year mayor pro-tem who was leaving the board, also hit a racial chord.
“I just have to say what's on my mind: It's sad that blacks are no longer the majority on the board,” McLaurin said.
Dean, along with incumbent Commissioners Ray Oxendine and Emmett “Chip” Morton, and first-time elected Commissioner Vivian-Brown Morrison, were all sworn-in to four-year terms Tuesday during a ceremony before a council room filled with family and friends. McClanathan was also sworn-in for his two-year appointed term.
Dean, a commissioner since 2001, defeated McKoy in the Nov. 6 election.
“I am very grateful to the citizens of Maxton who have placed their trust in me, and pledge to work hard and uphold the oath I've taken,” Dean said after the meeting.
“I'm committed to making Maxton a full-service town so that residents don't have to go to neighboring communities to get the items they need to go about their daily lives.
“I'm very concerned about unemployment and the young adults who must work to support their families. We need to enhance the education structure in Maxton, need better housing and need to provide recreation opportunities for our citizens of all ages.”
Morrison, who has a 40-year educational background, said after the meeting that she is ready to go to work.
“I'm looking forward to working with the other commissioners to improve the quality of life in Maxton and continue progress,” she said.
McClanathan, the general manager of Cypress Bend Vineyards in Wagram, noted that Maxton needs to attract new people and business investment into the community if the town is to grow and progress.
“We need new blood,” he said.
After the swearing-in of the mayor and commissioners, Morton was elected as mayor pro-tem. A resolution was also passed recognizing the many years of community service of McKoy.
McKoy told those gathered that she had enjoyed her years of public service. Over the years, she said, there had been much progress made in the community and she believes this progress will continue.
McKoy added that she intends to continue being active in community affairs.

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