PEMBROKE — Building strong relationships among the town of Pembroke, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and others is high on the to-do list of Greg Cummings, who was publicly sworn-in as the town’s new mayor on Wednesday.
“I saw human relationships at work here during Hurricane Matthew,” Cummings told about 150 public officials, friends and community members at the swearing-in ceremony held at UNCP’s entrepreneur incubator. “We were working as a team within hours.
“I believe that miracles are everywhere. That was a miracle,” Cummings said. “Everyone came together and worked together as one. God had a purpose and plan, and I believe in my heart this was all about building relationships … . Not just relationships in Pembroke but in all surrounding areas.”
Although Cummings was officially sworn-in as mayor at a private ceremony in October, it was decided that a ceremony should be held so that Pembroke residents and others could celebrate what was referred to several times Wednesday as an “historical event.”
“This is a historic event,” said Channing Jones, the town’s mayor pro-tem who has been performing the mayor’s duties since Mayor Milton Hunt died in April 2015. “The town of Pembroke has never had a ceremony like this in 40 years.”
Cummings said Wednesday that it was a long journey to his becoming mayor, a journey that began during Lumbee Homecoming on July 4, 2015. In the Nov. 3, 2015 General Election, Cummings finished second by 10 votes to Allen Dial in a four-way race.
The State Board of Elections ruled in January that because of voter irregularities and possible voter fraud a new election was to be held.
On March 15, Dial defeated Cummings and hearings were again held to determine legitimacy of some residency challenges. The State Board of Elections finally became involved and in early October ruled that Cummings is the “mayor of Pembroke.”
Dr. Robin Cummings, the chancellor of UNCP, said that he and the university are committed to working with the town to make the community a better place to live. He cited as an example the entrepreneurship incubator that is a $2 million investment in the community.
“This is an example of collaboration and service,” the chancellor said. “Job creation in Pembroke will also benefit Robeson County and surrounding areas.
“Mayor Cummings has vision. As we grow and develop, let us combine our vision. Combined vision will be our driving force … . Ignore limitations as we move our town into the future.”
The new mayor said he is looking forward to working with the town council. He said that working together the town can move forward.
“It takes a team, not one person, to get things done,” he said. “You have to be persistent and keep trying. I’ve learned that you never fail until you stop trying.”
Cummings is a former town councilman, having served several terms before departing a few years ago. He works as the county’s economic developer and industrial recruiter.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.