The dichotomy in Wendell's last mayoral election couldn’t have been more stark.
Incumbent mayor Harold Broadwell was so busy discharging his duties as mayor, he didn’t have time to campaign for re-election. His challenger, Tim Hinnant, beat the pavement and won the election.
Now that he’s mayor, though, Hinnant has become persona non grata.
He didn’t attend the recent anniversary celebration of the East Wake Education Foundation, an agency that has its headquarters across the street from town hall and that has now served a generation of the community’s young people. He couldn’t manage to commit 15 or 20 minutes to a drop-in affair that lasted three hours.
On Tuesday, Zebulon Mayor Bob Matheny arose from among the group of dignitaries introduced on the stage during East Wake High School’s commencement ceremonies. Mayor Tim Hinnant, despite an invitation from the county, was noticeably absent.
Now, we understand that such events are not critical to the operation of town government. And we understand that neither a mayor nor any other elected official can accept every invitation that comes his way.
But Wendell’s mayor has made a series of unfortunate decisions to ignore or decline invitations to some of the most significant events on the calendar involving town residents and local institutions.
It brings into question just how committed Hinnant is to his work.
And, before you stoop to the conclusion that a small-town mayor’s presence or absence is not that big a deal, consider this: Mayors lend legitimacy to any event they attend. Conversely, their absence sends a message that such events don’t hold a place of importance. If a mayor were to attend, for instance, a Tea Party rally, people would sit up and take notice. If they attend a graduation ceremony, people would make a mental note of his participation.
Hinnant needs to reconsider his commitment to the job he sought and won. He has two and a half years remaining in his term. Wendell can’t tolerate that much time with a mayor who’s MIA at some of the town’s most significant moments.