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Local Politics

Complaint: Hope Mills voters 'cheated' by candidate

Posted November 18, 2013

— One of the newly elected members of the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners may be replaced before he can even take office. 

Megan Larson petitioned the Cumberland County Board of Elections to hold a new election to replace Matt Hoerner, but they declined her request. Larson says voters were misled, since Hoerner had no intention of filling the role.

"I don’t know what his intent was, I just know the facts," Larson told the board Monday. "The facts are that he doesn’t live here. He lives in Korea, and he’s going to be there for the next three years.”

Larson said Hoerner, a defense contractor, took a job in Korea before early voting began. He was the fifth of five commissioners elected in the Nov. 5 election.

After his win, Hoerner emailed Mayor Jackie Warner to ask her to fill his seat.  

Larson claims Hoerner entered the race only to manipulate the outcome. He denies that, pointing out that The Fayetteville Observer reported on his plan to leave the area a week before ballots were cast.

"With the informed electorate, I left the decision in their hands," Hoerner said.

He pointed out that, had he dropped out of the race, only five candidates would have been running for five open seats.

"The democratic process is meant to provide choice, and five candidates for five positions is not really a choice at all," he said.

The sixth person, ousted in the Nov. 5 vote, was former Commissioner Tonzie Collins, who was removed from his position in September after years of complaints from town employees accusing him of sexual harassment and intimidation.

Collins, who denied any wrongdoing, ran for re-election despite a vote by his fellow commissioners that stripped him of his office. 

Larson, who said she had no connection to Collins, argued, "This was about the people of Hope Mills voting for candidates that were legitimately candidates, and I don't feel like he was. I feel like the people of Hope Mills have been cheated."

After the county Board of Elections voted 3-0 against Larson's request for a new election, she said she'd appeal to the State Board of Elections. 

The town attorney said that, if Hoerner doesn't show up for the swearing-in and chooses not to serve, the four other commissioners have a right to appoint someone to his seat.

22 Comments

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  • Sherlock Nov 20, 9:19 a.m.

    the four other commissioners have a right to appoint someone to his seat. This way they get someone that will vote the same way as them. If you look deep enough, you will find that the commissioners knew in advance he would not be seated and wanted to keep it that way.

  • Sherlock Nov 19, 5:18 p.m.

    They will appoint Tonzie back to his seat.

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Nov 19, 2:26 p.m.

    A lot can happen between filing for office in July and the election in November. It's entirely likely he had no idea about the job in Korea when he filed. I'm betting Megan was considering running but chose not to based on those already in the race and now she feels cheated. The voters explicitly did not choose the 6th place candidate so they should simply appoint as noncontroversial a member as they can.

  • lorawatson Nov 19, 2:00 p.m.

    Goes to prove the residents would rather have an empty seat than to endure what Tonzie Collins has done over the years. Tonzie is a bully, he is famous for his intimidation practices.

  • common tater Nov 19, 1:33 p.m.

    Sad that there's this level of apathy there...or that no one wants to be part of the commission. What a joke...how can someone run for an office they were "stripped" of?

  • oakcity Nov 19, 9:20 a.m.

    you know, maybe, just maybe the people of hope mills would rather have somebody thats not even in the country rather than tonzie collins?

    that guy has been a crook in that town since i lived there in the 80's-early 90's, his name is synonymous with small town crooked politics.

  • jdupree Nov 19, 8:24 a.m.

    Just proves a lot of voters are ignorant!

  • jonstewartrules Nov 18, 7:53 p.m.

    Meg is a blowhard who thinks she knows it all. The man ran for a position, never actively campaigned, never attended any of the forums or discussions, and never made any public appearances. He didn't advertise or spend any money. And yet the VOTERS elected him over blowhard Tonzie. Meg seems to think the voters of Hope Mills are idjits and need to be told HOW to vote in an election.

  • stymieindurham Nov 18, 7:16 p.m.

    "I don’t know what his intent was, I just know the facts," Larson told the board Monday.
    ============================================================
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    WHAT?!!!! Did he not announce BEFORE the election he was leaving. Therefore giving plenty of notice he would not be here for the office. Good lord, wake up!!!!!!

  • WralCensorsAreBias Nov 18, 6:49 p.m.

    "It's amazing to me that, even after the guy announced that he was leaving the country, over five hundred people still voted for him."

    We could say the exact same thing about all those who were warned O'care would KO them, but yet they still voted for Mr. HopeyChange cause it made them feel good and they have to believe that towing the liberal line will do them some good.

    But then we all know this IS the typical voter, so there is no really shock with any of it is there.

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