CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-18th District) says she will keep her seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives after issues arose about her becoming Carolina Beach Town Manager.
After announcing last night that she had accepted the job and would continue to serve in the legislature, town leaders learned today that a state statute precludes town managers from holding elected office.
“Both The Town of Carolina Beach and I acted on good faith regarding my ability to serve both the Town and in the NCGA,” Hamilton said in a statement. “We did so on information we received from the legislative ethics staff, who advised us based on their knowledge and research that it would be lawful and appropriate and I could do both. My personal ethics would never have allowed the process to move forward at all without clearance from the ethics committee. Based on information received today about an obscure statute specific to town managers of towns with populations greater that 3,000, state law says that I must resign as soon as I accept this position. This changes the nature of my decision. In the past Carolina Beach has experienced considerable political activity. I was comfortable working with the existing Mayor and Council. However, there is an election in November, and elections have consequences. I was OK with this uncertainty when my resignation was not eminent (sic). I will continue to serve in the North Carolina General Assembly and fight hard for my constituents in District 18. I have worked diligently and effectively and will continue to rail against the current majorities (sic) efforts to undermine public education. There are many more battles ahead that I intend to fight on behalf of women, children, minorities, the elderly, the disadvantaged, students, teachers, the sick – the list is too long. I must fight for the best interests of District 18 and all North Carolinians.”
After learning of the law this morning, Carolina Beach Mayor Bob Lewis said he wanted Hamilton’s decision by the end of the day.
“We are asking Susi Hamilton to inform us today as to her decision,” Lewis said. “We would love to have her as our new town manager, but we need to follow state statues as well.”
That contradicted what Hamilton said about her new job when she announced it in a news release last night.
“It is important to note that the North Carolina General Assembly does not require a member to resign in order to accept a full time position, and there are no immediate plans for any change in my elected status,” Hamilton said in the release. “I am extremely excited to have this opportunity, and look forward to continuing to serve our community.”
This afternoon Hamilton’s spokesperson Tori Jones asked us to “give (Hamilton) some space” as she makes this “life-changing decision for her and her constituents.”
Hamilton is in her second term representing a district that runs from downtown Wilmington across northern Brunswick County.
Last night, Hamilton texted with a WWAY reporter and said she was unavailable because she was in session in Raleigh working on the state budget, but asked us to share her statement with viewers.
Carolina Beach leaders say they were caught off guard when Jones released the statement about Hamilton’s new job. Jones said she e-mailed the media shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday because she believed the town was going to release its announcement at the same time. An e-mail from the town’s social media director soon followed.
Lewis said they have offered Hamilton the job, but a formal, public vote would not come until a meeting Friday. He said Hamilton would have made between $88,000 and $98,000, which Lewis said is less than former Town Manager Tim Owen.
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