MORRISVILLE — For several minutes, thunderous applause echoed inside the Town Council chambers.
More than 100 people gathered on Tuesday to give Morrisville’s outgoing mayor, Jackie Holcombe, a standing ovation.
It was a heartfelt send-off for a mayor who saw plenty of accomplishments, and controversy, during her four-year term. Holcombe has garnered both criticism and praise for her vocal stance on gun control.
She lost her seat last month to Mark Stohlman, who has served as a councilman.
Stohlman was sworn in as mayor on Tuesday, along with newly elected Town Council members TJ Cawley and Vicki Scroggins-Johnson. Steve Rao, who was re-elected, also took the oath.
In a farewell to Holcombe, Councilwoman Liz Johnson called the former mayor “a tireless leader” and “innovative.”
“She has convinced us all that it is good to be Morrisville,” said Johnson, repeating Holcombe’s oft-repeated phrase when referring to the town.
During Holcombe’s tenure, Morrisville weathered the economic downturn and grew its fund balance by about $1 million a year.
The town opened a new fire station, added four sites to the National Register of Historic Places and passed development codes to make way for a future downtown.
Voters approved a $20 million bond issue for road and park improvements.
Holcombe has pushed for the town to get its share of grant money from Wake County hotel and prepared-food tax. A proposal before a county advisory board could mean a new athletic complex in town.
But perhaps Holcombe has been most passionate about transportation issues. She was the driving force behind the creation of the town’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding, which will look for innovative funding solutions to help ease traffic.
In her goodbye speech, Holcombe quoted Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and civil rights activist who died Dec. 5.
“‘A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of ,’” Holcombe quoted.
“For the past four years, I have had the incredible privilege of seeing this concept play out in the town of Morrisville,” Holcombe said. “... This fundamental concern for others and for our Heart of the Triangle community has given rise to shared successes in the areas of public policy, transportation ... and my all time favorite, a stronger sense of community.”
Broadwell, Diehl move on
Holcombe wasn’t the only one who said goodbye to her time on the Morrisville Town Council on Tuesday night. Outgoing council members Margaret Broadwell and Steve Diehl were also recognized for their service.
Diehl, a retired human resources professional, served one term and decided not to run for re-election so he could spend time traveling with his wife.
“I wish the new council well,” Diehl said. “I just want to remind you (that) you work for the citizens, not for personal gain. ... Remember that, and all will go well.”
Broadwell has served on the council on and off since 1984. She became the town’s first female mayor in 1995.
Broadwell helped restart the town’s Winterfest holiday parade. A few years after the town discontinued the parade during the recession, Broadwell founded Variety Venues to organize and host the event.
She led the charge for two years, and the town took over the parade this year.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Broadwell said. “I’ll be serving you in other ways, even if it’s not on the Town Council. I look forward to things to come.”
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