Newsoms mayor sworn in
Published 12:30 pm Saturday, July 2, 2016
Alongside his children and grandchildren, 77-year-old Newsoms mayor-elect Vanless Worrell was sworn in at a ceremony at the Southampton County Courthouse on Thursday afternoon. The first African-American to hold the office of mayor in Newsoms, Worrell received 15 votes in May’s write-in elections, outdistancing town councilmen Joseph Steward and Wesley Story for the seat.
“I’m just pleased that the people that voted for me made it possible for me to become mayor,” Worrell said. “My primary goal is [to] make Newsoms into a small town like it’s supposed to be, and not make headlines.”
A graduate of Southampton County Training School and Paul D. Camp Community College, veteran of the United States Army, former town council member and former at-large Southampton County Public School Board member, Worrell ran for mayor of the small town in November 2014.
Following the September 2015 resignation of former mayor Kenneth Cooke amidst allegations of unlawfully holding meetings and attempting to terminate the town’s police chief, Worrell was named mayor by a town council vote. He received three votes from town council at a special called meeting, but the code requires that a majority of the body was needed to elect a new leader. Therefore, despite the fact that one of the six members was absent from quorum, four votes were still required.
At another special-called meeting with all council members present, Worrell again received only three votes. Town attorney Tim Drewry filed at that time filed a petition with the Southampton County Court System, who ultimately decided to forgo naming a mayor.
Vice mayor Harvey Porter stood in for all intents and purposes until May, when he too resigned.
“We had some ugly issues that the new administration is going to have to really look at,” Worrell said. “My goal is to serve the people of Newsoms and for them to be proud of the people that represent them.”