Invisible Man
The next mayor of Tar Heel could be anyone in town. Image: mcertou/Flickr/CC BY

The rural town of Tar Heel, N.C., may soon have no mayor or town commission. There is an election scheduled this fall for the open spots, but nobody signed up to run for them.

Two-week filing period ended

A story by WECT-TV of Wilmington, N.C., first reported that nobody has yet registered as candidates for the fall election. The two-week filing period for municipal officers came to a close earlier this week without one person signing to run for any of them. The positions include mayor and three members of a town council. Tar Heel, in Bladen County, N.C., has a population of 117.

No extension period

The Bladen County Board of Elections decided by vote not to extend the filing period. Cynthia Shaw, the board’s director, said she had never before seen an entire town without a single candidate.

Election officials say ballots will be printed up with blank spaces for voters to write in candidates. The person with the most write-in votes will be elected to the position.

Hard work with small compensation

Recent state budget cuts have put the tiny community in a precarious position financially. Current Mayor Ricky Martin says the next group of elected officials may have the always-unpopular duty of raising taxes just to stay afloat. He says he is not surprised nobody bothered to file for any of the positions. It’s hard work with small rewards, he said, even in a town of only 117.

In addition to Mayor Martin, councilwomen Betty Jo Barnes, Amy Davis and Betty Jo Merritt are all scheduled to vacate their seats in the fall.

Not without precedent

Last month, a similar situation occurred in Linwood, Kan., a town of 375. An election was held in which nobody filed to run for mayor. Election officials had to rely solely on write-in candidates for the position.


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