Local News

Trenton Mayor Resigns Amid Racial Tensions

Posted March 1, 1999

— The mayor of Trenton resigned Tuesday afternoon amid mounting racial tensions.

The announcement comes one day after black residents in the tiny Jones County town started a boycott of local businesses. They were upset by comments Joffree Leggett, 81, made to the Kinston Free Press.

Leggett was quoted in the newspaper as saying he and the town's council opposed annexing black areas because they do not want blacks to take over town government.

The stateNAACPcalled for Leggett's resignation after the comments were published. Friday, the town council did the same.

Trenton, a community of 200, has 23 registered black voters. Three adjacent unincorporated areas are predominantly black, but efforts to annex the areas have failed.

Jessie Koonce could not believe his mayor made the comments.

"A man that's got that much nerve to come out and speak his mind, it's hard to believe and it's hard to live down," he said.

Mayor Leggett never admitted any wrongdoing, but said it would be best for the town if he stepped down as mayor.

"It's been most chaotic here in the last few days due to these statements, and the mayor realizes that and he's sorry that all this has happened," says Town Commissioner Charles Jones. "And the town board had nothing to do with these statements, and this type of statement."

The former mayor declined to comment on the situation, but Trenton resident Geraline Majette did. She says the town needs to move on now, and let the statement die.

"I think they should just let it go because it is just keeping stuff going on and on," she said. "It's just going to cause a lot of trouble for everybody."

Town leaders say it will probably take a month or so to name a new mayor. Leggett had held the position for 15 years.

From Staff and Wire Reports.


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