ABERDEEN – A community meeting Feb. 9 at Daniel Baptist Church addressed what attributes citizens want in the next mayor of the city.

Through group breakout sessions, the common denominators included respect, leadership, unity and listening skills after long lists of characteristics.

“The question is what do we now do with this after we labored in doing this? I really think this came from the hearts,” said the Rev. James Cook, who facilitated the event. “Who do we go out to and say, ‘You embodied these traits and would you run?’”

Qualifying for the special election for the mayor’s race began Feb. 12.

The March 16 special election was scheduled by the board of aldermen following Maurice Howard’s removal from office after he pleaded guilty to embezzlement by a public official charges.

“There’s so much at stake. If it’s going to get better, it’s going to get better because we’re determined to make it better,” Cook said.

Citizens agreed it shouldn’t matter what race a person running for office is.

“We live in a town where if my cousin wants to run…‘I know he’s unable to read or write but because he’s my cousin, I want to put him in there anyway,’” he said. “Do we really want the best person or do we want to hang on the side of them versus us?”

He challenged people to ask city leaders if they’re going in with a servant heart.

“We have to listen to each other in this community. We need to hear what each of us is saying. We don’t need to worry about what we’re going to say next. We’ve got to get back to hearing each other,” said participant Toni Reece.

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