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Mayor, Council-members Take Oath

Councilman Bob Lewis takes the oath of office January 8, to fill the vacant seat of Mayor.

Tom Bridges takes the oath of office to fill a council vacancy.

Jody Smith is sworn in to serve on Council.

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - Carolina Beach Town Councilman Bob Lewis was sworn in as Mayor at the Council's January 8, meeting to fill the position left vacant by former Mayor Ray Rothrock. Tom Bridges and Jody Smith were sworn in to fill two vacant Council seats.
The Council appointed Jody Smith and Tom Bridges to fill two vacant seats during their Tuesday December 18, meeting. They were selected from a list of top five candidates drawn from 16 applicants who expressed an interest in serving in writing by November 30.
On November 13, the Council announced the resignation of Town Manager Tim Owens following a closed session meeting. Immediately following that announcement, Councilman Lonnie Lashley and Mayor Ray Rothrock resigned in opposition to Owen's resignation.
The Council interviewed the top five candidates from a pool of 16 people who applied for appointment to the vacancies for Mayor and a Council seat during a meeting held December 11. They voted to appoint Councilman Bob Lewis as Mayor.
The top five were Douglas B. Andrews, Dennis "Duke" Hagestrom, LeAnn Pierce, Jody N. Smith and Michael "Tom" Bridges.
Bridges and Smith will serve until December 2013. They will have the opportunity to run for Mayor (2 years) or Council (4 years) during the November Elections. Lewis will serve as Mayor until December when his original Council term was set to expire.
Jody Smith has lived in Carolina Beach since 2001 after attending the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She said, "I remember when I was at UNCW working on my degree there that Carolina Beach just was not a place you went. It wasn't a place to go to. It wasn't a place you took your kids and it wasn't a place to go out. I'm honored to say that over the past nine years living in Carolina Beach, 12 years total on the Island, that I've seen that turn around completely."
She works with the Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project that interacts with local government on a regular basis.
Smith said challenges facing the Town include how to deal with an uncertain future for property previously purchased for a Pier and Park, dealing with finding a long-term location for the Town's Operations Department and finding a new Town Manager.
On controversial issues, Smith said, "At the top of the list is just to listen to what the people want" and, "It's important to take in as many ideas and input." She said there would be times when decisions are made that not everyone will like.
Tom Bridges has lived here since 2007 and moved here after working as a principal in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System for 23 years. The first seven was as a school psychologist.
Bridges said, "I have a wide variety of public service and certainly have had to deal with the public on a daily basis also constantly making decisions" as well as interviews and working with staff.
Bridges said, "I'm not a politician" and public perception is key to being successful. He said, "That's something I can bring to the table... as a group you need to be a cohesive group. If you have something to discuss, you discuss it in an intelligent manner and even if you have some disagreements, you take it outside somewhere else. Backroom, you talk about it somewhere else. If you have five people you can actually meet two on two or one on one and not have to have an open meeting." He said he had to turn around schools that didn't have the best reputations and has extensive experience in budgeting.
He previously served on the Town's Planning Commission and Freeman Park Committee until being appointed to the Council.