A week after one city councilor resigned his seat, a second has announced he won’t seek re-election in the spring.
Fourth Ward City Councilman Darius Horton said during Monday’s City Council meeting that he will not seek re-election. Horton was first elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2015, 2017 and 2019.
“I’m thankful for the ability to be able to serve as a Fourth Ward councilman,” Horton said. “I’m thankful for those that have supported me and those that have brought their issues and concerns to me. I thank God for the constituents that have supported me through the years.”
Horton’s announcement follows the resignation of Second Ward Councilor Gabriel Adkins, who resigned his seat Oct. 4, citing what he called a backlash against his funeral home and catering businesses following his criticism of Pasquotank County officials in the wake of Andrew Brown Jr.’s fatal shooting by three Pasquotank Sheriff’s deputies on April 24.
Horton’s and Adkins’ decisions also come either after or amid City Council’s decision to fire former City Manager Montre Freeman on Sept. 30. Neither Horton nor Adkins attended the council meeting where council voted to fire Freeman.
Horton was not present when City Council voted 4-2 to terminate Freeman following a special meeting of council on Sept. 30. He also missed City Council’s Sept. 27 regular meeting, that included a closed session that presumably was about Freeman.
Horton told fellow councilors before announcing that he would not seek a fifth term Monday that he was attending his aunt’s funeral in New York on Sept. 27, where he gave the eulogy, and that he was in the hospital on Sept. 30.
“I actually had one of my staff members call City Hall to inform the persons that needed to know that I would not be able to be at the (Sept. 30) meeting because of my sickness,” Horton said.
Horton told council that he started to hear negative and false statements on why he missed the two meetings.
“Then to be able to hear different comments from persons that anyone can check themselves into the hospital and things of that nature is very disheartening,” Horton said. “It’s amazing how people will stereotype and come up with all manners of reasoning why a person missed meetings.”
Horton said he wished he had been able to vote on Freeman’s termination because it was a critical decision for the city. Horton, however, didn’t state how he would have voted.
A phone call and text message sent to Horton Tuesday morning asking how he would have voted on Freeman’s termination were not returned.
Horton said that he hopes City Council can find common ground in the months ahead. Horton’s term will end following next March’s municipal elections.
“As we move forward, I pray that we all have respect and find in our heart what is in the best interests of the city,” Horton said. “Not in the best interests of ourselves or the people that may be in our ear. We have to do what is in the best interests of the city.”
Horton’s announcement is almost certainly expected to open up the field for other candidates to seek his 4th Ward seat. Mayor Pro Tem Johnnie Walton is council’s other 4th Ward representative.
Emma Tate, director of elections for Pasquotank County, said last week that the filing period for both the City Council election and Pasquotank Board of Commissioner election will be from Dec. 6-17.
The city election, normally held in October in odd-numbered years, was postponed this year until March 2022 because of the delay in getting U.S. Census data to local officials. City officials need the Census data to redraw city wards so each has a roughly equivalent number of residents.
Because of a decline in population following the 2020 Census, the Fourth Ward is expected to see significant changes, a law firm advising city’s redistricting process has told City Council.