CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — The Town of Carolina Beach is under new leadership with it’s first female mayor being sworn in Tuesday night, along with two new council members. However, the night also came with a surprising twist for one outgoing council member.
Outgoing Mayor Joe Benson received a standing ovation at the packed town council meeting as he passed the torch to new Mayor Leann Pierce.
“Mayor Benson is awesome,” said Pierce. “He supported me 100%. He knew that he would not run again.”
Pierce became the first female mayor in the town’s history, taking her oath of office surrounded by family and a group of girl scouts.
“I hope that I can be an example for other young ladies so that they will see that they will see that they can aspire to their goals and be what they want to be in the future as well,” said Pierce.
Pierce says the number one issue she plans to focus on is continuing beach renourishment.
“We’re going to continue to work with extending our project so that we continue to put sand on our beaches and keep our inlets open,” she said.
Newly elected Council Member Jay Healy, named Mayor Pro Tem by Pierce, says he’s focusing on another issue.
“My number one goal is to hire a town manager as soon as possible,” Healy said.
Pierce being elected mayor meant her spot on town council had to be filled. At the meeting, newly elected Council Member Lynn Barbee motioned to bring back Steve Shuttleworth, who lost the election by five votes, and had been relieved of his duties just minutes prior.
That motion passed 3-1 with Council Member Jodan Garza preferring an application process.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, Steve has a lot of experience in that area,” said Barbee, “and I think we just put our differences aside and we go for the most experienced candidate. And let’s get to work.”
As far as town business goes, council scheduled three public hearings for January 14, which will focus on removing private parking lots and allowing a special use permit for the Carolina Beach Marina to build a floating bar.