At-large incumbent, Hammond, running on experience

By: Scott Witten -

LAURINBURG — Dee Hammond’s days as an employee of Laurinburg came to a close in December 2011. But she said her concern and connection to the city has never ended.

Hammond, who is seeking a second term on the Laurinburg City Council, said her 30 years as a city worker, much of it as city clerk, make her “uniquely qualified” to serve citizens.

Hammond, also briefly the interim city manager, was awarded the Order of the Longleaf Pine, one of the highest awards presented for service to North Carolina when she retired. She began her career with the city in March 1985 as an administrative assistant to the community development department.

“I am able to use my knowledge, experience, and history of city government to make informed decisions and suggestions for improvement,” Hammond said.

Hammond is facing challengers James Garby and Roy Guinn for the at-large seat on council.

Much has been made of Hammond’s support of the $9.1 million City Hall and police station. But she said the project is needed.

According to Hammond, the current building is outdated and subject to leaks, mold and asbestos.

“A new City Hall/police station will provide a modern building utilizing modern systems, materials, ADA compliant, more space for our current employees and space for any future growth,” Hammond said. “The new building will provide a safe work environment for our employees and a more customer friendly atmosphere for our citizens.”

On the city’s tax rate, Hammond said Laurinburg’s current tax rate at .40 per $100 valuation is one of the lowest in the region. She said that council will review the tax rate during budget workshops and will base any decision on available revenue sources and expenditures for infrastructure maintenance, equipment replacement and personnel costs.

“I feel we have a fair tax rate for our city, ” she said. “I do not see lowering our tax rate at this time.”

The councilwoman said any reduction in the electric utility rate would be based on “the city’s ability to provide the best service to citizens.”

“Council lowered the electric rate based on our consultant’s recommendation after his study of the city’s financial situation and rate structure,” Hammond said. “We must be able to provide our employees with the inventory and tools they need to be successful.”

Hammond said the most pressing problems that the city faces are crime, infrastructure, and job creation.

“I recognize the challenges and will continue to prioritize and deal with these issues by providing resources for our police department and following the plans recommended by our consultants to address the issues in the most cost-effective way,” she said.

Hammond added that the city’s continued partnership with other entities in the county are vital to creating job and attracting business and visitors.

“I will continue to support the Downtown Associate/Main Street program; support beautification efforts by staff including suggestions from the Beautification Committee made up of citizens,” she said. “I will continue to combat litter and to work collaboratively with the county, the school system, Richmond Community College, St. Andrews University, and the Tourism Development Authority to promote Laurinburg.”

In addition to serving on council, Hammond is a member of the North Carolina League of Municipalities General Government Legislative Action Committee, a former Scotland County United Way Board of Directors president, a member of the Scotland County Partnership for Children Board of Directors, Scotland County ABC Board chairperson, a past chairperson of the Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce, and former president of the North Carolina Association of Municipal Clerks.

She is a graduate of Laurinburg High School and has earned an Associate Degree in Science from King’s College, and a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill’s municipal and county administration program.

“I am a dedicated community volunteer and am always willing to roll up my sleeves and get the job done,” Hammond said.

Garby declined to take part in the candidate profile and Guinn failed to respond to a request to participate.

Scott Witten

Reach Scott Witten at 910-506-3023

Reach Scott Witten at 910-506-3023