One of the longer tenured mayors in the area has decided not to run for re-election this fall.
Benson Mayor William Massengill Jr. told constituents in an email Friday he will not seek another term.
“So, about a year ago I started a conversation with my wife and children about the fact that I wanted to look at focusing some of my energies and time in a new direction,” the mayor wrote. “After prayer and much thought I have come to the decision that I am not going to seek re-election as the mayor of Benson. This has not been an easy decision but one which I believe is true to myself and allows me to walk through new doors with new opportunities.”
Mayor Massengill has served as mayor since 2007.
“In 2007 when I ran for the office of mayor, I had no idea how I would feel 10 years later,” he said. “Gratitude and humility for the confidence that has been placed in me by the citizens of Benson and pride at seeing what has been accomplished when we work together in a purposeful way are just a couple of things which come to mind.”
During his tenure, Mayor Massengill, who is the director of Benson Area Medical Center, has overseen an economic boom that has brought a multi-million dollar hotel project and major improvements to the town’s infrastructure.
“We invested heavily in replacing dilapidated water lines, sidewalk improvements, the development of Vyas Park, the roll out of community policing with the installment of a Police Advisory Committee and programs like Friday Night Hoops,” he said. “We have made strategic investments in laying new sewer lines and replacing pump stations to provide services to existing customers and to aid the new development.”
The mayor was also at the helm when the town’s electric service reached a new milestone.
“We were able to give the first electric rate decrease in the town’s history and we are looking at a second decrease later this year,” he noted. “And we invested in smart grid which, with the use of load management, will help Benson to better manage our electric and water systems and help control future electric rate increases.”
In addition, he has overseen an economic and residential growth that has exceeded expectations.
“A highlight of all of this work has been the start of our new $9 million Hampton Inn hotel and two outparcel restaurants,” he said. “And today with 14 new homes under construction in Benson, our housing growth is the strongest it has been in the history of our town. Combined, we have seen $80 million in industrial/commercial/residential growth over the past 24 months.”
The mayor also pointed out there were many more improvements to the town beyond the economic. “While economic development has been a key objective for Benson, it goes hand-in-hand with another objective, appearance,” he said. “Our work with NC DOT to beautify our interchanges along with our town work on interchange maintenance has enhanced our gateways and made our town more inviting.”
He addressed the efforts of the town to rid itself of eyesores and unkempt areas. “I often hear people comment on the beauty of our Main Street and downtown areas,” he said. “We have also worked to correct problems such as dilapidated, unkempt buildings through a voluntary demolition program and enforcement of overgrown lots being maintained. All these things work together in having a town in which we are proud to call our home and is inviting to new homeowners and businesses.”
In the email he urged the residents of Benson to continue to support the town’s efforts and to continue striving for better things. “The future for Benson is bright and for us to remain committed to being the best small town in North Carolina will require continued work,” he said. “We are where we are today as a result of good strategic planning, teamwork and a commitment to being a great small town for all of our people.”
The mayor also pledged to continue to serve to the best of his ability until his term expires at the end of the year. He reemphasized the importance of the ongoing economic strategy sessions involving the town and the residents as well as his goal of doubling the average income of Benson. “This includes my challenge that we strive to double our household income from $24,000 to $50,000 over the next 10 years,” he said. “It will also mean that I will be committed to finding ways in which we can engage citizens at all levels. Although there is much mistrust and divide in our country, we in Benson can be the example of how people can live together in a thriving community that respects everyone.”
The mayor closed the message with a thank you to the people who elected and supported him during his tenure. “While we have many strengths, it is the people of Benson that make this a special place to live and work,” he said. “Our diversity is one of our greatest strengths. That includes our town staff. We truly have some of the best people working for the Town of Benson.” He also credited the current and previous members of the board of commissioners for their support and efforts.
He closed with a few words of encouragement aimed. “While many great things have happened, there are still many things to accomplish,” he said. “There is a lesson I have learned this year: Build on your successes, accentuate your strengths and work with people who want to partner for the betterment of Benson.”
While the mayor has decided not to seek an additional term, there are three seats on the town’s board of commissioners. They include Mayor Pro-Tem Fred Nelson, Commissioners At-Large Will Chandler and Jerry Medlin. Candidates for those seats and any other municipal election can file their notice of candidacy at the county board of elections starting at noon Friday, July 7 and ending at noon Friday, July 21. Story and photo courtesy The Daily Record