Murphy: It will bring checks and balances; Tingle: Veto not part of mayor’s job
by David Anderson
Kinston Free Press
In addition to choosing three new City Council members, Kinston voters also have the opportunity this election to determine whether or not the mayor should have veto power.
The state legislature approved a bill earlier this year to allow the city of Kinston to hold a referendum on a mayoral veto.
The matter came up after Mayor B.J. Murphy and the members of the council had a dispute over his support of a bill introduced by Rep. Stephen LaRoque, R-Lenoir, in Raleigh to repeal the city’s proposed annexation.
The council voted unanimously to oppose that decision, and members were angered over the lack of support from the mayor.
In the wake of the dispute, the council voted to remove Murphy from the U.S. 70 Corridor Commission, and strip him of his traditional duty to sign council-approved resolutions and other documents. Council members stressed their actions were not related to the dispute, though.
“Just like President Obama and Gov. Perdue have a tool to oversee the polices implemented by their governments so too should the mayor of Kinston, who is the chief elected official,” Murphy said Tuesday.
The Kinston mayor currently only has the power to vote on an ordinance if there is a tie among council members.
No mayors in North Carolina, other than those in Charlotte and Topsail Island, have veto power, and that power is limited in those cities.
If the Kinston mayoral veto measure passes, it would give the mayor the power to veto any decision made by the council. The council can come back at their next meeting and override the veto if the members can obtain a four-fifths majority vote.
“You take personality out of the equation here and look at the fundamental principles being put to the voters this November,” Murphy said. “Do you want a mayor who is indirectly responsible for a $100 million budget and who cuts ribbons, or do you want your mayor that you elect to have some say-so in the government?”
The six candidates running for City Council are split on their support of a mayoral veto; Democrats Joe Tyson, Kelly Jarman and Sammy C. Aiken, as well as unaffiliated Jimmy Cousins, are against it. Republican Lennie Peterson and unaffiliated John Nix are for it.
Councilwoman Alice Tingle, who will not run again after her term ends this year, said the Kinston mayor already has a number of duties, but vetoing council measures should not be one of them.
“I think (voters) should vote against the mayoral veto,” Tingle said. “The president of the United States and the governor have a veto, and our mayor is extremely important and he plays a very important role, but I don’t think it rates up there with the president of the United States or the governor.”
Tingle said few cities in North Carolina give their mayor veto power — the majority of municipalities have a council-manager form of government, with the town or city manager often taking on the role of chief executive, although he or she does not have any vote.
“Our form of government was set up that the council has a vote,” Tingle said. “He represents us everywhere he goes and he does a great job of that, he welcomes people to our city, he presides over our meetings. There’s so many things he does, that I think the voting is supposed to be with the council.”
David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fast facts on Kinston mayoral veto:
n Mayoral veto is on this year’s election ballot
n Election Day is Nov. 8, early voting continues through Nov. 5
n If passed, mayor would have veto power over all council decisions
n Any vetoed matter can be placed on the next meeting’s agenda
n The council can override with a four-fifths majority
Source: Mayoral veto legislation