Billingsley resigns from City Council

By Kevin Spradlin

ROCKINGHAM — Rockingham City Councilman Travis Billingsley has submitted his resignation from office due to the requirements of his new job. His resignation is effective May 12, the date of the next City Council meeting.

Travis Billingsley

Travis Billingsley

Billingsley, 35, wrote in a letter early Tuesday morning to Mayor Steve Morris that he has recently accepted a promotion to the position of North America Human Resources Director with Arauco-North America and is required to relocate to Atlanta. Billingsley was the youngest person ever to be elected to Rockingham’s City Council.

Billingsley said he and his family will make that move in June when the school year is completed. He’s been working in the new job since Jan. 1 and has split time between offices in Atlanta, Fort Mill, S.C., Bennettsville and Raleigh.

“I have been honored to serve the citizens of Rockingham and (am) proud of what we have accomplished together on behalf of our city,” Billingsley said. “The history books will reflect positively on the contributions during this period of time.”

Billingsley also expressed gratitude for working “beside our very dedicated and talented city staff  and, “on a personal note, it has been my pleasure to work with such a cohesive and dedicated city council.”

Billingsley told The Pee Dee Post he first ran for office in consideration of his children, now 9 and 3.

“I really believed there was a continued need to draw people back to Rockingham,” Billingsley said, noting the opening of the Discovery Place KIDS children’s science center and the grand opening of the Hitchcock Creek Blue Trail and Greenway as “phenomenal things that make Rockingham a destination.”

Morris said Billingsley often had insight to personnel matters not readily available to other council members.

“We will miss him,” Morris said.

Morris was on the City Council before being appointed to the mayoral seat vacated by then Sen. Gene McLaurin. He described Billingsley’s arrival as “a very smooth transition.”

“He had some good ideas,” Morris said. “He was always willing to speak up (and) voice his views. “It never appeared he wanted recognition for the ideas that he brought to the table.”

The resignation will add to an already heavy election year for the city of Rockingham. Morris is up for re-election for a second two-year term. Along with Billingsley’s vacancy, three other City Council positions — C. Bennett Dean III, Denise A. Sullivan and John P. Hutchinson — all face re-election bids.

Deane and Sullivan are Democrats while Hutchinson is unaffiliated. While those three seats will be fought for among the top three vote-getters, Billingsley’s seat will be “a separate ballot item,” said Connie Kelly, director of the Richmond County Board of Elections.

On the ballot, candidates will run for Billingsley’s unexpired term of two years.

Morris said the city will likely appoint someone to fill the vacancy until the November election. Those interested should call City Hall and make their interest known.

The Richmond County Board of Elections will open at 8 a.m. on Monday, July 6. Practice generally dictates the filing period opens on the first Friday in July, which is July 3, but that is a recognized holiday in connection with Independence Day, said Connie Kelly, county elections director.

The filing period will close at noon on Friday, July 17.

A Hamlet native, Billingsley said he first relocated to Rockingham after accepting a position with Perdue in human resources. His wife, Brooke, is a kindergarten teacher at Washington Street Elementary School.

“I think they’re excited,” Billingsley said of his family’s anticipation. “My kids are young enough. It’s not going to impact them as much as say a teenager. We’re leaving behind some really good people, some really good opportunities.”

So far, Billingsley sees only one problem with the move. The Atlanta Braves are building a new ballpark in Cobb County — but he’s a Yankees fan.

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