The longest tenured Clinton City Council member wishes to extend his stay on the city board, and filed Wednesday at the Sampson County Board of Elections to do just that.
Councilman Rev. Marcus O. Becton is seeking reelection to the District 3 seat he has held for more than 20 years. With Becton’s hat in the ring, he becomes the third of four city incumbents to make it official. Councilman Darue Bryant, who was appointed in May to fill out the late Maxine Harris’ District 5 term, is seeking election to his first full term, and longtime Mayor Lew Starling filed last week seeking his ninth mayoral term.
Challenger Daniel Ruggles has filed for the Council’s upcoming District 1 vacancy. Incumbent Steve Stefanovich previously announced that he did not expect to seek another term to represent the city’s first district. There is currently no opposition in those four races, with Friday’s filing deadline looming.
On Wednesday, Becton said he was seeking a sixth term with the goal of continuing the work of the Council and city staff.
“I’m very positive about the direction the city is going and the accomplishments in my district,” Becton stated. “I want to be a part of furthering those efforts.”
Becton mentioned specifically the improvements at Newkirk Park — he is on the Newkirk Park Advisory Committee — as well as sidewalk extensions and overall cleanup that have revamped the district. He said he also wants to continue targeting illegal drug activity across the city, pointing to a recent county campaign that has leveled felony charges on more than 30 suspects. He lauded the Clinton Police Department, while saying that the arrests are evidence that drugs remain prevalent in Clinton and Sampson County.
“I would like to see that (enforcement) taking place, so we can continue to make Clinton a great place to live,” Becton said.
Becton, accompanied by his wife Apostle Wendy Becton at his filing, has served on the Clinton City Council since 1996. He was first appointed to the board’s District 3 seat, before winning election to the district seat in 1997. He was officially sworn in as Clinton’s mayor pro tem in May, assuming the post previously held by Harris. He is the first African-American man to serve as mayor pro tem, having been elected to the post in a unanimous decision by his fellow Council members.
In addition to his place on the Council, Becton also pastors Way of the Cross Church in Turkey, celebrating his 28th pastoral anniversary in June. He is the current vice president of the Sampson County Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and is poised to become its president this November.
Around that time, he hopes to also be retaining the Council seat he has held for the past two decades. He said, while the Council and the city have both changed a great deal since he was first appointed to the board 20 years ago, the goal has always been the same: improve the quality of life for the city’s citizens. And that is what the Council has strived to do, with the help of a dedicated city staff, he said.
“We have a wonderful Council,” said Becton, noting “Clinton has changed for the better.”
He also credited the current iteration of the board with being a “working Council, open to diversity and to growth.” There is just one retired member of the Council, with all the others currently working, noted Becton, who serves as a grief counselor, notary public and funeral attendant at Worley Funeral Home Inc. in Clinton.
“That, within itself, brings more innovative ideas,” Becton attested. “There is more growth and addressing of that growth. There is also an emphasis on the appearance of the city, especially with the N.C. 24 project coming in. We are constantly making our town look more presentable.”
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