Southampton County supervisor gives parting remarks

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dec. 31 marked the closing of my tenure on the Southampton County Board of Supervisors as a representative of the Newsoms District, which included the Newsoms and Blackwater precincts.

The two terms that I served — from 2004 to 2011 — were a most honorable and humbling experience. As a 28-year Army veteran, I have learned that service to one’s country, state and/or county is a life-fulfilling purpose. This is why we walk this sacred circle of life to make a difference in the life of another.

As such, I would like to personally thank all the constituents within the Newsoms District for the opportunity to become a part of the history of Southampton County as the first Native American to serve in such a capacity since the inception of Southampton County in 1749 and as their representative within the county’s governing body.

I never looked upon this duty to my county as a career, but as an esteemed honor. Those who I represented — from my last count some 1,877 registered voters — thank you so very much.

Also, to the silent majority, some 72 percent within the Blackwater Precinct-Forks of the River who elected not to come to polls and exercise their hard-earned constitutional rights and vote for the candidate of their choice in the most recent election: You have no right to complain.

I would be remiss should I not personally thank County Administrator Mike Johnson and all of the staff for the superlative support given to me and for the bonding that was achieved with the former Board of Supervisors, especially those who recently lost their elected seats on the board.

This bonding resulted in the achievement of continuity as required from a holistic approach to run a county’s government with purpose and vision. That purpose and vision came to fruition recently with a well welcomed industry settling down in the Turner Tract — one of which many will follow as set in motion by the former Board of Supervisors.

Economic development does not occur overnight. First, there must be a purpose and a vision coupled with a product or a place for industry with a good recruiting effort as promulgated by Franklin/Southampton Economic Development Inc.

Our constituents must appraise themselves to the fact that jobs just don’t happen; there is a process.

If I can paraphrase a quote from the renowned Frederick Douglas:

“I know the journey (for our county) at times can become difficult and exhausting, but if there is no struggle (hard decisions — not liked by all), there is no progress. Those (constituents/citizens) who profess to freedom (jobs, low taxes and a superb education system) and yet deprecate agitation, are men (constituents/citizens) who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lighting (hard-core decisions made by the former board).

“They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. The struggle (for our county’s economic success) may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, but it must be a struggle.”

As such, I applaud the decisions the former Board of Supervisors made over the past four years. In many cases, they were misinterpreted by many of our constituents, yet I believe now they are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Economic development and jobs are on the rise; the county is financially stable and not going broke.

The most recent county audit revealed that the former Board of Supervisors exercised fiscal responsibility. What more can one ask from their representatives?

Core services were provided, including education, transportation and public safety.

Thanks to former Supervisors Anita Felts, Moses Wyche and Walter Young for making the “hard-core” decisions for the betterment of our county and constituents.

Those “hard-core” decisions “we” made to foster economic development and jobs are now coming to fruition and those jobs and industry that “will come” to our county over the next two years will be a result of our “unpopular hard-core decisions.”

I enjoyed serving with all of you.

Chief WALT “RED HAWK” BROWN is a former Southampton County supervisor whose term expired on Dec. 31. He can be reached at