RAYNHAM — A bill approved this week in the state General Assembly will change the length of terms for those holding elected offices in both Raynham and Orrum.
The bill, whose primary sponsor was Rep. Garland Pierce, a Democrat from Wagram whose district represents part of Robeson County, amends charters in both communities so that the terms of council members increases from two to four years. Mayors in both communities will also have their term lengths increased from two years to four years.
The bill sets the election of all council members and mayors to be held at the same time once every four years. No longer will voters be choosing their governing officials in staggered elections.
Pierce said the recommendation for the longer terms was made by the towns and G.L. Pridgen, director of the Robeson County Board of Elections.
According to Pridgen, holding municipal elections in such small communities as Raynham and Orrum is a significant expense. He said that in 2015 it cost Raynham $1,327 to hold an election for the town’s 52 voters.
“There’s just not a big enough tax base to support elections every two years,” said Pridgen.
Pridgen also said that Orrum has just 57 registered voters.
In North Carolina, municipal elections are held every two years during odd number years.
Pierce also cited cost as the major reason for the towns to move from two-year terms to four-year terms for their elected officials. He pointed out, however, that towns with small populations have only a small pool of individuals wanting to serve on their town councils. In recent elections in both town there have been times when the number of available seats was higher than the number of candidates.
“In small towns there are not as many people interested in serving,” Pierce said. “There are not enough different people wanting to run for office to require there to be elections every two years.”
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.