SURF CITY — A coastal town in Pender County is losing 30-plus years of experienced leadership. Surf City’s Mayor Doug Medlin shocked the town when he announced his resignation at Tuesday’s town council meeting.
The item was not listed on the agenda.
The council also unanimously approved the nomination of councilwoman Teresa Batts to fill Medlin’s seat through the remainder of his term, ending December 2023.
“Surf City is very fortunate to have had Mayor Medlin for 30-some years,” she said to Port City Daily. “His kindness and loyalty to this community is something that will never be forgotten.”
Elected to town council in 2016, Batts said becoming mayor has always been a goal. She announced last month at a small town gathering she would be running for the position in 2023.
“I’m here to serve Surf City and want to continue to make it a great place where we live, a great place to work and a great place to play,” she told PCD. “I am invested in this community and I want to serve. It’s never been considered a job for me; it’s been expected to take care of the place you live and call home.”
Batts, a lifelong Surf City resident, said her campaign for the 2023 election will begin next year.
At the end of Tuesday’s council meeting, Medlin gave a heartfelt speech, citing his health and spending time with family as reasons for his early departure.
“There’s a season and a time for everything; a time to plant, a time to grow, and there’s a time to rest to be the most successful in anything you do,” Medlin read off his notes. “The time to rest has come for me.”
He added he has a “long road ahead.” Though Medlin did not disclose the health issues he faces, he confirmed it is not terminal but must be his number-one priority.
“This decision was not made lightly and not made overnight,” Medlin said between tears. “It’s one of the hardest decisions of my life.”
Medlin was sworn in as a council member in 1998 and appointed mayor pro tem before taking the mayoral position in December 1989; he served until December 1991.
In 2017, he returned to the position as interim mayor when Xander Guy left for a state job. Medlin was reelected in 2019 to a four-year term.
Town manager Kyle Breuer noted some major highlights during the mayor’s leadership, including recovery efforts of Surf City following Hurricane Florence, overseeing construction of the new Surf City bridge, and advocating with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for beach renourishment projects.
Medlin also led the charge on sewer infrastructure in the town during the ’80s and worked to update the water treatment system.
“We’re losing a very bright light on the council; he set a legacy and a benchmark,” councilman Buddy Fowler said at the meeting.
Fellow member Jeremy Shugarts agreed: “He’s done more in his political career than I could probably ever do in 10 lifetimes. You’ve united people; kept politics out of politics and kept the people up front and foremost.”
The change in leadership is effective immediately. Shugarts made a motion to suspend the council rules and add additional items to the agenda after Medlin’s announcement. He proceeded to accept Medlin’s resignation and nominate Batts to be acting mayor.
Both motions passed unanimously. Council member Don Helms was then voted in unanimously as mayor pro tem, replacing Fowler, who held the role.
There is now a vacant seat on the council, which Breuer said is a process that will soon begin to openly select a replacement.
The town will host a future event to honor Medlin.
“We will continue to highlight and acknowledge his accomplishments over his career, his sincere dedication to the people of Surf City,” Breuer said. “But he’s still right around the corner, and we can always call him for his fantastic institutional knowledge.”
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