By Junious Smith III / Staff Writer
Published: Monday, December 2, 2013 at 20:35 PM.
Three candidates who won positions in Kinston’s municipal elections last month received their coronation during the last meeting of 2013.
At Monday’s regular meeting, B.J. Murphy was sworn in for a second term as Kinston mayor, while Robbie Swinson and Wynn Whittington took the oath of office as members of the city council.
Murphy was reelected as Kinston mayor, with Swinson and Whittington receiving the most votes for the city council.
Murphy said the major focus shouldn’t be on the members being elected, but on what they can provide for the citizens in Kinston.
“Being in office is not about me or the next person,” Murphy said. “It is about the service that we render to the people. My plan tonight (was) to expand the slogan found in our city seal, which is, Forward in Prosperity.”
Murphy said he is thankful to have the opportunity to serve Kinston for a second term as mayor.
“It certainly is an honor,” Murphy said. “I’m going to challenge our citizens, our staff, our council and myself to seek that prosperity that our community deserves. Our responsibility is to instill hope. When people say, ‘I’m from Kinston,’ I want them to say it with pride. The comeback starts with us.”
Swinson, who was elected to his third term as councilman, said the swearing-in ceremony was exciting, but paled in comparison to his inaugural one in 2005.
“It’s hard to compete with the first time,” Swinson said.
Swinson said he’s appreciative of the voters wanting to keep the consistency going with the council.
“The community believes in myself and B.J.,” Swinson said. “They believe the city is moving in the right direction, which is a plus having the support of the community. I’m truly thankful for the voters.”
Paul Jones, senior resident of the Superior Court Judge for North Carolina, presided over the ceremony. Jones said the continuity of Murphy and Swinson was a good thing.
“The city has stability here,” Jones said. “The council has done a good job and that’s what people are looking forward to.”
Jones also had positive words for Whittington, as he has had interactions with the newcomer in years past as a Lenoir County school board attorney.
“Wynn is a career educator and should be a welcome addition to the council,” Jones said. “He has educated a lot of children here as a teacher and principal at Kinston High School.”
Whittington, who received the most votes for city council and will be taking Bobby Merritt’s seat, said he is excited and ready to work.
“I’m looking for the opportunity to serve the community, and work with the existing council, mayor and manager to move Kinston forward,” Whittington said. “I’m humbled and appreciative of the voters, who instilled the confidence in me to serve them. It hasn’t hit me until (Monday), but it’s starting to come to fruition and I can’t wait.”
City Manager Tony Sears said each swearing-in ceremony is special, whether it is in Kinston or any place else.
“It’s a very special time in American history,” Sears said. “Across the nation, people are being sworn in as proof that democracy works and leaders are elected by a majority vote. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Junious Smith III can be reached at 252-559-1077 andJunious.Smith@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JuniousSmithIII.