New Garland commissioner takes his seat

Chris Berendt Staff Writer

October 9, 2013

GARLAND — The Garland Board of Commissioners welcomed its new member Tuesday, roughly a month after accepting the resignation of Matthew Register.

Upon accepting Register’s resignation at its Sept. 10 meeting, the board immediately voted unanimously to appoint Michael Strickland to the commissioner post. Strickland accepted, and was sworn in Tuesday night. Accompanied by his wife Jo, Strickland swore the oath of office, administered by town clerk Jennifer Gray.

“I would like to thank the Board of Commissioners for nominating me,” said Strickland. “I’ve lived in Garland for 12 years and I feel like I have a lot of practical experience that will help the town of Garland. I just appreciate the opportunity to help the town and serve the town.”

Strickland greeted the mayor and board members, who offered their congratulations and well-wishes.

“I did talk with Mr. Strickland briefly today and offered my assistance in terms of finding out more about what his roles and responsibilities are,” Garland Mayor Winifred Murphy said during Tuesday’s meeting.

It is expected that Strickland will take over committee assignments previously held by Register, including streets, public relations and buildings/park/recreation. Strickland’s term expires in 2015.

In his Sept. 3 resignation letter to Murphy and the board, Register cited time constraints and the inability to meet the demands of the job with a new business and raising a young family.

“It is my greatest hope for the town of Garland that, under the leadership of our town officials, its citizens can set aside their differences and continue (to) work together in an effort to move Garland forward in the right direction,” Register stated.

His father, the Rev. Tim Register, expressed a similar sentiment in his invocation leading off Tuesday’s meeting.

Matthew Register was appointed in February 2012 to fill the unexpired commissioner’s term of Murphy, who was elected to the board in 2011 but vacated the seat when she was appointed mayor. Register and Haywood Johnson, who was appointed to the board the month after Register following Coleman Johnson’s resignation, were both appointed following an application and interview process, one that also included public comment.

Murphy said town citizens should be able to give public comment or input in the process, with the town advertising the open position and giving residents the chance to apply for the position themselves if they have an interest, just as the last two appointees have done. However, Commissioner Ralph Smith said the board should appoint someone as soon as possible. Strickland’s name was brought up as someone who had expressed interest in the position.

“There’s nothing against Mr. Strickland,” Murphy said last month, “it’s just that I think everybody deserves the chance to put their name in the hat. Citizens need to have some input before the decision is made.”

The board unanimously voted in favor of Strickland, deciding to sidestep an application and interview process, and he was sworn in Tuesday.

“We’re looking forward to working with you,” Murphy said to Strickland. Gray, deputy town clerk Jennifer Richardson and fellow board members greeted Strickland in similar fashion.

Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at