GARLAND — After taking a trip to Sampson County Board of Elections office, Joseph Lee Carberry was ready to run for a seat on the town’s council. But after approval from commissioners, he does not have to wait until November to join the board.
During a Tuesday meeting, Carberry was selected to fill the vacant seat during a public interview process. The position was previously held by Ralph Smith, a longtime commissioner who made contributions to infrastructure needs such as the water system and public works. Smith recently submitted a letter of resignation for the term set to expire in 2019.
The Sampson County native served with the National Guard for about 20 years after graduating from Clinton High School in 1991. Carberry experience also includes two tours in Iraq and duties as a Military Police officer. He was retired after medically discharged.
“I still push forward,” he said. “I don’t like sitting around.”
Carberry has lived in Garland for about 12 years and is married to Roxanne Jones. He was a deputy with the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office and was a contract police officer in Fayetteville.
Throughout the town, Carberry has assisted with maintenance work such as mowing grass, ball field up keep and raising flags. With a new police department being established, he also expressed that he would like to assist Chief Ronald Matthews.
“That’s the kind of person I am,” Carberry said while talking to the commission. “I just like to help people.”
When asked about his vision for Garland, Carberry said he would also like to help bring more businesses to the area.
“You got storefronts with no businesses,” he said. “Try to move businesses in. Build it up.”
He expressed how the small town does not have to be stagnant when it comes to economic opportunities.
“There’s a lot of empty land around town,” he said. “You can bring businesses in, small businesses or big businesses … it’s a tax revenue that will help the town. It wouldn’t burden the town.”
With a background in construction Carberry said he’ll be able to assist the commission with building improvements. Carberry added that he would like to see things get better, not worse when it came to empty buildings such as the old schoolhouse, which is deteriorating.
After the resignation, town officials began seeking candidates, who were asked to complete an interest statement for the spot. Carberry was one of two candidates interviewed by Mayor Winifred Murphy and commissioners. Austin Brown was the second.
Like Carberry, he also filed with Sampson County Board of Elections for the Nov. 7 election. Brown previously worked for the town’s Public Works Department and served on the Garland Volunteer Fire Department. He left the department to run for a seat on the commission.
“I submitted my letter of intent because I want to bring a new fresh voice to our town board and shape the future of our community, for my family and all families,” Brown said to the commission. “I feel that Garland needs growth and prosperity. Garland needs young open-minded leaders willing to step up and believe in what’s best for Garland. But first of all, it needs people willing to stand together, united with one common goal — what’s right for Garland. I feel by doing so, we can build a bright and positive future for our town.”
During his remarks, Brown said some of his visions include clean properties, paved streets and facilities for youths.
“I want to see young children and new families move into renovated homes that now stand vacant,” he said.
Brown also feels that commissioners should engage more with residents and mentioned a goal to make Garland more business-friendly.
Murphy and Commissioner Carolyn Melvin made remarks about the candidates’ passion for Garland and acknowledged their volunteer efforts. Following remarks, commissioners unanimously picked Carberry.
“Your time is coming,” Murphy said to Brown while giving encouragement for the election. “We definitely appreciate all that you do for the town.”
Before taking the seat, previously occupied by Smith, Carberry took the oath of office by placing his hand on Bible held by Murphy.
The selection on Tuesday leaves Brown the sole candidate running for a seat on the commission, as of Wednesday afternoon. Terms for Murphy, Mayor Pro-Tem Haywood Johnson, Commissioners S.J. Smith and Melvin expire this year.