Local Politics

No encore for Roanoke Rapids mayor, councilmen

Posted November 4, 2009
Updated November 5, 2009

— The mayor and two members of the City Council were ousted in landslide elections Tuesday, and observers said the voters reflect local residents' frustrations over the music theater the council brought to town a few years ago.

Roanoke Rapids took out a $21.5 million loan to build a 1,500-seat entertainment complex that was initially headed by and named for country music singer Randy Parton, the brother of entertainer Dolly Parton. Officials expected the project would spur growth along Interstate 95 and generate enough tax revenue to pay off the loan.

Roanoke Rapids Theatre Music theater plays role in local election

"Everybody was on board. Everybody was excited," Mayor Drewery Beale said, recalling the hundreds of people who showed up in 2005 for the groundbreaking.

The excitement didn't last, however. The city's relationship with Randy Parton quickly soured amid allegations he misspent money and showed up drunk at a performance.

The City Council approved a $547,000 settlement in March 2008 to buy out Parton's contract, and they pulled his name off the theater, renaming it the Roanoke Rapids Theatre.

Slow ticket sales prompted officials to close the theater temporarily in the summer of 2008 and forced the City Council to approve a five-cent increase to the local tax rate to help pay off the loan, which runs through 2027. The city sold the theater a year ago in a lease-purchase deal to a Chicago businessman for $12.5 million.

"A lot of people were upset. They thought some things went on that should have not (gone) on," Beale said.

Voters made their feelings clear Tuesday, electing Emery Doughtie mayor over Beale by a 76 to 24 percent margin. City Council members Ed Deese and Jon Baker lost by similar margins.

"There's little doubt that the voters wanted a change," said John Moeur, managing editor of The Daily Herald newspaper in Roanoke Rapids. "It's three-to-one (margins) almost across the board for the three incumbents."

Even Doughtie was stunned by the landslide vote.

"I was very much astonished to have won by the size of the victory that I did. I expected it to be a much closer race, running against an incumbent," he said.

Beale, who plans to volunteer selling tickets at the music theater after he leaves office in December, said he believes the venue will be successful one day. He said he hopes Roanoke Rapids will remember what he and the City Council did to help get it to that point.

"I tried so hard to make a difference, and I think I have made a difference," he said.

Tax threat does in Morrisville mayor

A grassroots effort in Morrisville led to the ouster of incumbents there. Mayor Jan Faulkner was soundly beaten in Tuesday's election.

During her single term, Faulkner drew criticism for a proposed tax hike. Jackie Holcombe will take her place.


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  • djbyrdnc Nov 5, 2009

    I can not believe these guys ran again, what did they want to mess up next? Ther is no telling how much money they have cost the tax payers. Maybe Gov. Bev will bail them out. Look at the people that still voted for them. Crazy.

  • JuanGrande v3.0 Nov 5, 2009

    Who didn't see "Epic Fail" attached to that project from the beginning?

  • Skywatch_NC Nov 4, 2009

    Bit of trivia ...Drewery Beale made a cameo appearance (worked for the sheriff dept. at the time) ...in the movie "Norma Rae".

  • CrankyMan Nov 4, 2009

    Too many years of Beale antics -- it's a shame it took this long for folks to wise up. This guy's bad record started long before his police car demolishing days on the force all the way through countless marriages is all proof that he is not committed to anyone except himself. The best thing for RR and the Theatre is to keep this leech away from any ticket sales - can you imagine how many of his friends will ends up with free front row seats? It is time to retire, Mr. EX-mayor!

  • joco cruiser Nov 4, 2009

    It's always the tax payer that bails the government out for their bad decisions. When will I have a safety net for when I make one?

  • justafella Nov 4, 2009

    Damage an already fragile tax base, thats what he did.

  • anonemoose Nov 4, 2009

    Term Limits enforced by the voters. Many, many towns have had mayors and board members unseated this week.

  • moth Nov 4, 2009

    Govt just never learns. This was taxpayer money. You don't gamble with it on business ventures.