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Spring Lake board sworn in for another term; Cooper elected mayor pro tem


At a swearing-in ceremony Monday, Spring Lake’s Board of Aldermen elected Alderwoman Sona Cooper as mayor pro tem and reflected on the town’s recovery from a financial scandal that put it under tight state oversight for the past two years.

Meeting at Spring Lake Parks & Recreation Center with about 125 people in attendance, the board adhered to recent protocol by electing Cooper — the top vote-getter among contested races on the board in November’s general election — as mayor pro tem. As such, she’ll preside over meetings in the absence of Mayor Kia Anthony.

Mayor and board sworn in

Anthony, sworn in for a second term, reflected in her remarks on what’s taken place in Spring Lake in recent years. 

“What an incredible journey in the past two years,” Anthony said. “My heart is overflowing with gratitude, hope and with a bright, solid vision for our future.”

She thanked her family, friends, the town board and the town staff for their respective roles in that journey.

“We have reached fiscal stability, we have reconciled our audit issues, we’ve rejuvenated our fund balance, we’ve addressed past oversights, celebrated new businesses and fostered new trust with our stakeholders,” Anthony said. “However the journey doesn’t end here.”

Anthony called for the town to work together and to invest in the future of the community, focusing on Spring Lake’s youth and stimulating economic growth.

“United we will reach new heights and achieve great things for Spring Lake,” Anthony said. “Not just great, but legendary.”

Alderwoman Robyn Chadwick, who served this past term as mayor pro tem and was reelected to the board in November, put her hand on a Bible held by her son and repeated her oath of office by former Spring Lake resident Dr. Tamekia La’shonda Dowdy, a notary public.

Chadwick told the audience she’d learned to never make a promise that she could not keep.

“I promise I will keep moving Spring Lake forward,” Chadwick said.

State Sen. Marvin Lucas (D-Dist. 42) administered the oaths of office to his niece Alderwoman Sona Cooper, as well as to Alderman Raul Palacios and Alderwoman Adrian Thompson.

Lucas, who recently announced his retirement from politics after serving North Carolina for 47 years, was also the 10th mayor of Spring Lake.

“This entire board deserves praise for what they have accomplished,” Lucas said.

State Sen. Tom McInnis (R-Dist. 21), Cumberland County Commissioner Chairman Glenn Adams and former state Sen. Kirk deViere were also in attendance. Hope Mills Mayor Jessie Bellflowers, along with other Hope Mills elected officials and staff, including Mayor Pro Tem Kenjuana McCray, Commissioner Joanne Scarola and Town Manager Chaucer McLaughlin, were present.

Palacios joked with Alderman Marvin Lackman as he administered his oath of office.

“Alderman Lackman, you have helped clean Spring Lake from the inside out,” Palacios said. referring to Lackman’s participation on the board and the coordination of Spring Lake Matters monthly cleanups.

Lackman took his oath and gave special thanks to his wife of 31 years, Janine Lackman, before thanking interim Town Manager Jason Williams, who also serves as the town’s fire chief, for this work. In his remarks, he noted that Williams originally committed two weeks in the position as interim town manager; Williams has now served in the role for over a year.

“It’s been two weeks and counting,” Lackman said. “It’s amazing how the fire chief would run to the fire so we can rebuild for tomorrow.”

“This was the little town that could,” McInnis told the audience. “It’s the town that can. And it’s the town that will.”

The newly elected town board agreed as they prepared for another term.

“The training wheels are off,” Palacios said.

The board will next meet at 6 p.m. on Jan. 8, in the Grady Howard conference room at the Spring Lake Town Hall.

Jami McLaughlin can be reached at jmclaughlin@cityviewnc.com

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spring lake, swearing in, mayor pro tem, elections 2023