Mocksville mayor stepping down after 18 years

Published 9:08 am Thursday, December 10, 2015

His presence will be missed, but former mayor Dr. Francis Slate has already been informed by Town Manager Christine Bralley to stay close, as he is expected to remain as a consultant on matters of the town and on life.

Slate was mayor for 18 years before passing the gavel to new mayor Will Marklin last week. Bralley said he has been such a fixture in her life that she cannot imagine him not having a presence in town hall.

“He has been involved almost my entire career. His knowledge has influenced many changes and decisions within the town. He has been a wonderful teacher and example, and his friendship will remain, as will my respect for him,” she said.

Slate has no plans to go far.

He said he plans to read, stay busy and keep up his daily practices of reading the newspaper in the morning, doing the Sudoku from the newspaper every evening, and spending time with his wife Daphne, and pets, all rescues. One of those is Zocor, named after the cholesterol-reducing drug. Slate shared how Zocor came to be in his life.

“About eight years ago,” he said, in his captivating South African accent, “I wanted a dog, and I called the pound, and the girl said we have just gotten in a dog that would suit you fine. So I drove down there and the dog was a Pit Bull. I said, I don’t think I want a Pit Bull, and she told me it was the most gentle dog I would ever see.

“It was owned by a lady in Bermuda Run who passed away, and she had tried to give it away before she died but no one wanted it. So I told the girl I would give it a week, and I drove home, with the dog sitting in the passenger seat just like a human passenger. And he’s been with me ever since. He’s 13 now, and I renamed him Zocor because I figured every time I took him for a walk, my cholesterol would go down.”

Slate came here on a bitterly cold, snowy day, Dec. 1, 1958. In Mocksville, he was a physician to many people, and he and Daphne raised their family of two daughters and a son. His daughters still live in Mocksville and he sees them almost daily, he said. His son lives in Atlanta.

Before becoming mayor, he was on the town council for 10 years.

He said Mocksville may be the only town in the US to have had only two mayors in the past 30 years and to have had only two town managers, who just happen to be husband and wife. He said they have both been effective managers and says Christine is “amazing in the work she’s done,” especially in the areas of finance and handling problems.

“The auditor who performs the annual audit of the town audits a number of towns, and he said Mocksville is in the best financial shape of any town he audits. That’s partly because of the board but mostly because of Christine,” Slate said.

He said he has enjoyed his time as mayor, feels privileged to have served, and is grateful for having been elected.

“I ran a total of 13 times and never got beat, so I decided I better stop while I was ahead,” he said with a smile.

And with no reservations, he leaves the town in good hands with new mayor Marklin, who, he said, “has been active in his thinking about what’s good for the town, particularly in recreation. He’s young and involved with the Scouts so recreation is a natural for him. He has done well and will do well, and I think he will be a very good mayor.”

Marklin knows he has big shoes to fill but his eight years as a board member and time as mayor pro-tem have helped prepare him. He plans to continue working with the board on town assets and improvements, including Rich Park and the downtown area.

Marklin said Slate’s even-keeled demeanor made him effective, especially in dealing in situations with opposing ideas. Slate has been a mentor, he said, and has helped create a “good working environment with a board who gets along well.”

Marklin said he will miss hearing Slate’s proclamations, given in his South African accent.