The last time Troutman had a new mayor, Bill Clinton was president and the town’s population was 1,493.
Census numbers show the town population now has passed 2,400.
The year was 1999 and Elbert Richardson, then a 56-year-old retired banker, had just captured what would turn out to be the first of his four, four-year terms. Richardson led the town through a period of unprecedented growth, tempered by a severe recession.
After three uncontested elections, Richardson was defeated in November’s election. Retired Iredell County Lt. Sheriff Ron Wyatt won by a 3-1 margin. On Friday, Richardson conducted his final town board meeting. He described his experience as “rewarding and humbling.”
Before turning the gavel over to Wyatt, Richardson, now 72, told the packed meeting room that he vividly remembered his first four years.
“We spent most of the time cleaning up a real mess left by the previous board,” he said. “We’ve come a long way since then and the progress we have made is finally becoming very visible around town.”
Richardson was honored one last time as he received a rocking chair made by the Troutman Chair Co.
“Thank you for being a dedicated civic minded leader” said Mayor Pro Tem Teross Young.”Now you can really sit back and relax.”
North Carolina District Court Judge Deborah Brown installed Wyatt, with his wife, Julie, by his side.
During the campaign, Wyatt said, if he was elected, he would take a close look at the way town money is spent.
“I have listened to many in the community voice their concerns as to why we have the largest water/sewer rates of any town in the state, yet, we continue subcontracting a good portion of work outside.”
Wyatt also said he had been asked why the town pays for its police officers, but it contributes very little to the volunteer fire department.
“With a lot of encouragement, I have chosen to roll my sleeves up and get involved,” he said. And I want our residents to know that I will be physically available at the town office daily to help address these concerns and others that may arise.”
Troutman’s mayor is a part-time position, with an annual salary of $6,000.