Update: Don Collins retires as Black Mountain mayor, Larry Harris takes over
BLACK MOUNTAIN - Larry Harris is the new mayor of Black Mountain following Don Collins' Aug. 10 announcement to retire. His resignation concludes nine years on the town's Board of Aldermen.
Collins was elected as an alderman in 2011 and reelected in 2015 prior to winning the mayoral election in 2017 over then-incumbent Michael Sobol.
Collins made the announcement at Monday night's Board of Aldermen meeting.
“I’ve done everything I’ve promised to do,” Collins said. “I’m proud of everything we’ve done as a town.”
After missing opening days for elk hunting in Colorado, along with his daughter's upcoming graduation in Oregon, Collins said he's looking forward to spending time with his family.
In 65 years living in Black Mountain, Collins was confident in his success as both a board member and mayor.
"I stepped down knowing that the town was in exactly the shape that I wanted it to be in," Collins told the Black Mountain News.
He added that his decision to retire was a "lengthy decision" in the anticipation of enjoying outdoor activities.
Harris, who was initially nominated to fill the open alderman seat when Sobol was elected mayor in 2011, will assume Collins' seat until 2022.
"That's a big seat to fill," said vice mayor Maggie Tuttle, who nominated Harris for the position.
Harris said he feels comfortable being mayor for two years and added that he and Collins had discussed Collins' intent to retire prior to the Aug. 10 meeting.
“I’m honored to serve and happy to do so,” Harris said. “We’ve all worked together at the current board. We’ve all worked together nicely, and I certainly have a lot of confidence in them."
Collins added his support for Harris.
"I'm sure Larry will do an absolutely fabulous job," Collins said. "He's well respected, and I know without a doubt he'll do the job."
The board voted 4-1 to appoint Harris as Collins’ replacement. Ryan Stone was the lone vote against Harris’ appointment before leaving the meeting.
Following Harris’ appointment, Stone expressed frustration and noted that the board could have postponed a decision until its Sept. 14 meeting.
“I just feel like we’re doing a disservice by not having an open process,” Stone said.
He added that he did not know that Collins had planned to step down that night.
With Collins' resignation, the board nominated Archie Pertiller Jr. to fill the open alderman seat left by Harris. Pertiller is currently listed as a candidate for the three open board seats in November's municipal election.
“We were really proud and pleased to be able to appoint (Pertiller) to complete my term,” Harris told the Black Mountain News. “And now, of course, he has to run for reelection in November, but it gives Archie a chance to step forward and serve.”
Pertiller was unanimously voted to fill Harris’ seat, with Stone’s absence counting as affirmative.
The town's charter requires any mayoral or board vacancy to be filled for the remaining term by the board.
A 2018 decision by the board requested for future elections be held exclusively on even years, adding an additional term year for each board member. This request was later approved by the General Assembly in 2019.
Stone said he will work to prevent appointments without public input, including examples in Harris and Pertiller.
"We're supposed to be a representative body, and when you keep appointing a representative of the folks on the board, you're not representative of the community," Stone said.