SUNSET BEACH, NC (WWAY) — A Sunset Beach town councilman was forced out of a meeting Tuesday night after speaking out of turn. This came just two weeks after former mayor Greg Weiss resigned.
In a video posted to YouTube by the town of Sunset Beach, councilman Rich Cerrato can be seen being escorted out by police chief Ken Klamar after mayor pro tem Mark Benton says he crossed the line.
“Charlie, you’re not telling the truth. You’re not telling the truth. And you’re going to have the Beacon report it,” Cerrato can be heard saying to fellow councilman Charles Nern on the video.
This was the first meeting since Weiss resigned. Tensions were visibly high.
“You have to understand small town politics. They vote friendships,” said Cerrato.
Cerrato says he was asked to leave after he raised questions over a statement Benton gave to WWAY, saying he would act as mayor until November.
“It was a violation of the open meeting laws and it’s worth a discussion. And evidently, they got caught, and they wanted to make me the issue rather than the issue itself,” said Cerrato.
Cerrato, who previously worked as a human resources director at MIT and has served on council since 2015, says things changed in 2017 when Nern and John Corbett were elected to council.
“Their level of transparency is not to the standard that I believe the taxpayers want,” said Cerrato.
But Benton says Cerrato is the problem. He says they don’t have any issues when Cerrato is absent from meetings.
“I just want Mr. Cerrato to act like a decent person on the dais. No yelling and screaming, no calling people liars or names,” said Benton. “And he’s out of order, he must listen to the mayor or the pro-tem mayor and act accordingly.”
Cerrato says someone has to stand up for the taxpayers of Sunset Beach.
“That’s my fiduciary responsibility, to ensure they are not being mistreated, and they fully understand what is happening in their government,” said Cerrato.
We reached out to other council members as well. Nern did not want to comment. Corbett says he was “not surprised by the behavior or what took place.”
Jan Harris did not return our call or email.