Is Pinehurst’s ruling clique breaking up?

For years, Pinehurst politics has been dominated by a close circle of residents centered around SpeakerrrrrRichardMorgan™ and his wife Cindy.   Now that the voters have removed those two from public office, their disciples appear to be parting ways.   The Morgans were  quite good at dividing and alienating the voters-at-large, but apparently were the glue that held this clique together.

Former county commissioner Colin McKenzie, also a clique member and former village councilman, penned a letter-to-the-editor in today’s Pilot calling for “change” on the village council:

In the past, I have supported every member of our current council openly and without hesitation. Is it time for a change?

The present council appears divided, and no one seems to have provided the strong leadership now needed. They just hire consultants or appoint volunteers to study the problems and then recommend a solution. These people make their living changing things.

This technique is resulting in the destruction of our Village Center and Green by expanding the parking area and possibly giving more land from what’s left of the Village Green to the library for an ill-advised expansion.

The approval of 60 dwellings on four acres of land in Old Town is not a decision to be proud of. I certainly believe there are better solutions to these major problems. They definitely are not protecting those people who own property adjacent to the Village Green. All growth is not progress.

Since we became a municipality in 1980 and held elections, Pinehurst has always had an outstanding group of people with a wealth of experience willing to serve and do what was best for our village. They have worked closely with state boards and the civic group to keep Pinehurst the way the Tufts family and Olmsted intended it to be.

Until recently, Pinehurst had been probably the most successfully run small town in the state and has been a leader for our county in the percentage of residents paying taxes on time. This speaks well for our past leaders.

Fortunately, we now have a new group of well-qualified candidates. Is it time for change? I’m certainly going to look closely at who I vote for this election for Village Council. I hope you will do the same.

McKenzie is clearly sending a message to his old friends that they can’t count on him at the ballot box this time.

For many years, McKenzie, mayoral candidate Joan Thurman, former councilmember Lorraine Tweed, and others worked together with the Morgans to dominate politics in Pinehurst and Moore County.   In this year’s mayoral race, incumbent council members Thurman and Nancy Fiorillo are competing against retired businessman John Marcum.    If you check campaign reports on file with the county board of elections, you will notice that Bob Tweed, longtime clique member and husband of Lorraine, has parted ways with Joan Thurman and is working as treasurer of Nancy Fiorillo’s campaign.  Also, Lane Bergstrom, a longtime political ally of Thurman, is hosting events for Fiorillo.

Cliques — or machines — are bad for politics.  It is good thing to move beyond superficial alliances and start talking to the common people about the important issues of the day.

Here’s hoping the clique goes ahead and finalizes its divorce.