TAYLORTOWN — The mayor of a small Moore County town is still in charge, despite charges of abusing his power in office.
The State Bureau of Investigation arrested Taylortown Mayor Ulyssess Barrett last week after an eight-month investigation, accusing him of illegally benefiting from public contracts. He showed up for a Town Council meeting Tuesday night, however, and he is receiving support.
Taylortown is framed by the same longleaf pines that give neighboring Pinehurst its evergreen backdrop, but work-of-art golf resorts aren't part of the picture in the tiny town of 900.
"I have been here all my life, and we've never had a swimming pool, we never had a town hall. We never had many of the things we have (now)," said Andria Weekes, a Barrett supporter
Weekes gives the credit to Barrett.
The mayor is charged with three misdemeanors, including benefiting from a public contract as a public official and illegally acting as town manager.
His sister, Hope Barrett, downplays the significance.
“I think that's petty stuff. Even though it might be valid, it's petty, and it could have been worked out," she said.
Barrett's detractors—including the mayor pro tem—say he's made critical decisions without the council's approval, and they say some of his practices were clearly wrong.
Councilman Jesse Fuller, the mayor pro tem, says the mayor ignored the council and gave himself a town contract to fix up an old house. He says Barrett used a town worker on town time to do the work.
"I personally don't think it's right to take $1,500 of taxpayers' money because he felt it was in the best interest of the town," Fuller said.
Barrett had a “no comment” and hung up when WRAL contacted him by phone