Taylortown Council Refuses to Censure Mayor
Posted March 27, 2007 10:33 p.m. EDT
Updated March 28, 2007 12:32 p.m. EDT
TAYLORTOWN — The fireworks flew Tuesday night as a town’s mayor squared off with a council member who called for his resignation.
Mayor Ulysses S.G. Barrett Jr. has been charged with three misdemeanors, including benefiting from a public contract as a public official. He was arrested in February, but is still in office.
During Tuesday’s Taylortown council meeting, there was more heated debate about the circumstances surrounding Barrett, who has held the post of mayor for more than a decade.
“Step down as mayor until these issues have been resolved,” council member Jessee Fuller said to Barrett.
Barrett said he has never overstepped the bounds of his office, and the board, as a whole, agreed. They voted 3-1 to keep him in office, and they also approved a move that would let the town foot his legal bills.
The mayor's legal troubles began because he was hired to refurbish a house that the town owns. The estimated cost of the work done was more than $29,000.
The residence will be used for after-school programs. Some Barrett supporters said hiring him to do the renovation was much cheaper than hiring a contractor.
“He tore all these floors out,” said council member Lonnie Jones. “He remodeled the whole thing.”
Many people who live in the town of 900 told WRAL they still support their mayor.
“That's a whole bunch of mess, really,” one said. “I'm not gong to go into no details, but trust me, I'm not going to follow anybody or work with anybody that's crooked.”
The charges against the mayor came after an eight-month investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation. If convicted, Barrett would no longer be eligible to hold public office in North Carolina.