Eddins won’t seek reelection to Knightdale Town Council

aspecht@newsobserver.comJuly 18, 2013 

Jeff Eddins talks to Mark Swan, a Town Council candidate, after the July 17 Knightdale Town Council meeting.

PAUL A. SPECHT - ASPECHT@NEWSOBSERVER.COM Buy Photo

— Jeff Eddins, who Knightdale voters elected to Town Council four times, will not seek reelection this fall.

Eddins, 41, says he wants to spend more time with his daughters, ages 6 and 9, and his stepdaughter, who is 17-years-old.

“I feel like the town is in a good place right now. Fire and police are in a great shape, and it’s a good time to step away,” said Eddins, chairman of the town council’s Public Safety Committee.

Eddins is a banker who worked at banks in Knightdale for years before taking a job at KS Bank in Wendell earlier this year. Though Town Council often seeks Eddins’ opinion on financial matters, he has been more deeply involved with the Public Safety department throughout his tenure.

“He’s been our public safety expert on the council for years, which has been invaluable as we’ve continued to modify it,” Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen said.

Eddins made headlines last year when he publicly scolded town staff for dismissing three Knightdale firefighters – two volunteers and one part-timer – after staff discovered their relatives also worked for the town.

“(The firefighters) want to risk their life by running into burning buildings for us and we’re going to turn them away because one of their relatives already works here? That doesn’t make sense to me,” Eddins said during a March 2012 Town Council meeting.

Eddins called for the firefighters to be rehired, and the council later approved a new policy allowing relatives of employees to volunteer and work part-time for the town.

Eddins is the second incumbent Knightdale Town Councilman this year to pass on seeking reelection. Tim Poirier, who served three terms between 1999 and 2011 before Town Council appointed him to fill a vacant seat in September 2012, will also forego another term. Their departures leave Mike Chalk, 63, as the only incumbent seeking a return to Town Council.

A local favorite

Had Eddins pursued one of the three open Knightdale Town Council seats, history shows he would have been a favorite to win. Eddins was the top vote-getter each year he ran for office.

In 1999, townsfolk say Eddins became the youngest person ever elected to Knightdale Town Council when he won in a special election for the seat vacated by Bob Duncan, who resigned earlier that year after moving to Garner. With 39 percent of the vote, Eddins beat two other candidates.

When Eddins finished the rest of Duncan’s term two years later, he received 26 percent of all votes for Knightdale Town Council – the highest among six candidates. In 2005, Eddins received 29 percent of the vote, beating out four other candidates. In 2009, he received 31 percent of the vote, beating out three other candidates.

Joe Bryan, Wake County Commissioners’ Chairman and former Knightdale mayor, suggested Eddins would be the top voter in this year’s election if he were to run again.

Providing ‘good constituent service’

Bryan said Eddins will likely be remembered as an “integral team player” on a council that encouraged Knightdale’s population to grow at record rates, kept property taxes low during the recession, and built Knightdale Station, a 70-acre park Town Council says will transform downtown when it opens later this summer.

During Eddins’ tenure, Knightdale Town Council usually voted unanimously and rarely squabbled during public sessions. However, Eddins wasn’t afraid to publicly deviate from his peers.

In one of Knightdale’s most closely-watched Town Council votes, Eddins in 2006 joined Terrence Gleason in the minority to vote against rezoning 51 acres between two subdivisions on Knightdale Boulevard to make way for a Wal-Mart Supercenter. Though the rezoning request passed – with Killen, Chalk, and Poirier voting in the majority – Wal-Mart later quit pursuing the project amid public pushback.

“What makes Jeff so likable is he gives good constituent service. He stays in touch and has a good sense of the concerns out there,” said Bryan, who was Knightdale mayor when Eddins was first elected.

“He’s leaving Knightdale in a better place,” Bryan said. “That’s all any of us can hope to do.”

Specht: 919-829-4826

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