In the span of a about a month, nearly everything changed at the top in terms of leadership in Havelock.
On Nov. 5, voters in Havelock elected Will Lewis as the new mayor over two-term incumbent Jimmy Sanders. Lewis totaled 624 votes, while Sanders had 319.
A week later, Frank Bottorff was sworn in as Havelock’s new city manager.
Add the hiring of Katrina Marshall as the new city planner on Jan. 28, and 2013 turned out to be a year of change among the leadership positions in Havelock’s city government.
Lewis, a two-term city commissioner, vowed to be more aggressive as mayor. He said he would be focus on a new economic plan and promised to make himself accessible by having regular hours at city hall.
“We’re going to be a lot more proactive about the things we want in Havelock,” he said.
Sanders said the city would transition well with Lewis as the new mayor.
“I don’t have a roll in it, but I don’t see a problem,” Sanders said. “It’s a good board and I know they have a great staff and I believe that we have a very energetic manager. The city will be fine.”
Incumbent Commissioner Jim Stuart was re-elected to a third term, but the city board got a new face in Commissioner Brenda Wilson, who garnered 518 votes, the most of any of the five commissioner candidates.
One of the first orders of business for the new board was to begin a working relationship with the newly hired city manager, Frank Bottorff. Bottorff, the former commanding officer at Cherry Point, was sworn in a week after the election on Nov. 12. He replaces the retiring Jim Freeman, who had been city manager for the past seven years.
“Jim Freeman was an excellent city manager,” Sanders said. “He’s a great friend, and I thought he was going to be an excellent city manager when we hired him.
“He did a great job. It was not always easy being the city manager. You have six elected officials that often have different ideas, and all of them are almost always passionate about their positions. I’m very, very pleased that Jim came to work for the city of Havelock seven years ago.”
Sanders said that next to setting taxes, hiring the city manager is the most important thing commissioners will do.
Freeman said the time had come for someone else to take the lead in running the city.
“I want to believe when I walk out of here that I did my job bringing you to this point,” Freeman told officials during a retirement ceremony. “But it’s time for somebody else to take the wheel. … I think with the new leadership you have coming aboard, it’s going to take this community a little further along. Frank’s coming aboard, and he’s a great addition to this community. He has the ability to do it and he’s got good people around him to help make those decisions.”
Sanders called the hiring of Bottorff the equivalent of hitting a home run.
“I have nothing but respect and admiration for Frank Bottorff,” he said. “I first came to know him when he was the station commanding officer. He’s one the best ones that we’ve ever had. He’s a fine family man and he’s a gentleman. He’s smart and he’s going to be a great city manager, really keeping the run going.
“We’ve have had great city managers over and over and over again. It doesn’t happen by accident. We put a lot of work into making sure we hire the right person, and I have no doubt that Frank Bottorff was the best man for the job and I’m just anxious the see him come unto his own and get his feet under him and take it on.”
Meanwhile, Marshall began her job as the new city planner on Jan. 28, replacing Scott Chase. She was the former planner for Carteret County, with experience working with the military. And she immediately assumed a leadership position with the Slocum Creek recreation park project.
Freeman said he had confidence in the new city leadership for 2014 and beyond.
“One thing I really love about this community is that the elected officials that you have is that they work as a group,” said Freeman. “They always put Havelock first on their agenda. You might see some different discussions on things, but when it came down to it, you’ve had great boards and you still have a great board.”