Editorial: Mocksville board at a crossroads in moving forward

Published 9:27 am Thursday, October 15, 2020

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The Town of Mocksville has its work cut out for it.

If the town were a roller coaster, it has lost its brakes and is dangerously close to careening off the track in the fifth turn.

To say the least, Mocksville is at a crossroads. Which way it goes is up to five people – town board members – all well-meaning, likeable, capable and caring people. Continue down the road of back stabbing, divisive behavior, and your next manager probably won’t be here long, either.

Matt Settlemyer is gone as manager, and who could blame him? No, he wasn’t the perfect manager, but who could have been under the circumstances? He, at the very least, deserved a few more years.

He was the town’s fourth manager in a few years. Three have held the interim title during those years.

And all of these changes aren’t cheap. The town paid nearly $10,000 in the search to find Settlemyer, some $6,000 on its search to find the previous manager.

Why is the manager gone? The police department, the longest thorn in the side of every town manager Mocksville has seen since adopting the manager/board way of doing business. There’s been a lot of reasons for this over the years, everything from officers being inappropriate with members of the opposite sex on traffic stops in the 1980s to a cat in the office in 2019.

And now, the police chief is leaving, and who could blame him? No, he wasn’t the perfect police chief, but who could have been under the circumstances? Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Pat Reagan is a good man, everyone agrees to that, but he was thrust into an impossible situation when he was named chief. I’m not sure anyone could have been successful in that job at that time. Too many sour grapes. Too many harsh words. A different chief could have done things differently, but success would have been hard to come by.

But that’s all in the past.

The town board members must realize that. You don’t forget, but you move forward. Put petty political and ideological differences aside and move on. The board is obviously divided about things, but that’s OK. Did one side or another gain influence in the last election? I’d say no. I have enough confidence in all of them to do what they think is right. And if your side loses, don’t try to subvert that decision. Don’t try to tear down anyone. Take a deep breath and move on. The world shouldn’t have to come to an end because one side doesn’t get their way all of the time.

Remember what a former and probably the best Mocksville manager has often said. Terry Bralley is fond of saying that sure, we have problems, but he wouldn’t trade our problems for those of another town for anything.

He was right.

We live in a good place, a really good place. Good people live here because they choose to live here. Town employees are by and large some of the best that can be found. They care about their jobs. They care about their community. And they’d like to do those jobs without the interference of political posturing.

Give them that chance, please.

Mayor Will Marklin realizes this, but is concerned. “We need stability in that manager’s seat,” he said. “I don’t think it will happen in the current environment. It’s up to the board. I don’t manage the manager, that’s up to the board.

“It’s frustrating. We’ve got a great town, and it’s going to get better. The manager has got to manage and the board has got to let the manager manage.”

Good luck with that one, mayor.

While we agree, political ideologies just don’t go away. Each side of every issue should try to be empathetic to the other. Try to understand why they feel and think as they do. Even put yourself in their shoes, and imagine what they think of you and your opinion, and why.

Do that and you’ll realize that in the end, you all want the same thing. To make a great place ever greater.

Now do it.

– Mike Barnhardt