Stanley mayor’s 24 year term coming to an end

Page News and Courier

STANLEY — 2016 has been a year of lasts for Mayor Doug Purdham. This summer, he participated in his last Homecoming as mayor. The 50th annual event saw Purdham give a speech at the conclusion urging the town to unite together in friendship and God.

Last weekend saw Purdham's final Christmas parade as mayor. While he knows he could delegate and have an easy night riding the parade route, Purdham is scrambling around the hour before it starts helping get candy and floats organized.

Purdham's final town council meeting as mayor will take place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday Dec. 14.

Purdham has been mayor of Stanley since 1992, after getting into town politics first through the planning commission and later Stanley Council.

"I hate the words town politics," Purdham said. "I got into community service within my town back in the 80s."

A history teacher in high school changed Purdham's life and got him interested in serving his community.

"He taught us that you can't always be the quarterback, you can't always be rhodes scholars or honor society," Purdham said. "But, everybody can be a good citizen, and I have tried to make that my model ever since I left high school."

Purdham has spent more than 30 years of his life in Stanley politics. He has seen a lot of changes over his tenure as mayor — several different faces, new technologies and new problems.

"I think the biggest thing that has changed is the support you get from other governments, and other sources," Purdham said. "Everybody is going for the same penny — you have to really pick and choose what needs to be done. It's a constant struggle of needs versus wants, and it's a lot harder today."

Reflecting back on his career, Purdham is most proud of the growth in the community. He cited the expansions of the recreation park and library as notable accomplishments.

"The things that we've done to improve our fixed assets, to improve the quality of life for the people of Stanley and to maintain our infrastructure as best that we possibly can, that's what's most important," Purdham said. "If we don't take care of that, we can't take care of anybody else."

While the mayor doesn't have any regrets, he does wish he could have done more for the town.

"We didn't have a stick big enough to have a stake in a lot of things," Purdham said. "I wish we had full-time recreation to offer our youth, but there's so much competition for youth sports. I wish we had more to offer the citizens to let them enjoy life here more abundantly."

While Purdham did not get a lot of the "wants," he felt he took care of the "needs" of the town, earning the respect of the citizens in the process.

"I can assure you that I've never made a decision based on any selfish wants," Purdham said. "Anything I have ever decided, I have always felt that it was in the best interest in the Town of Stanley."

The decision to not seek re-election had weighed on Purdham's mind for the better part of the last year, with him giving it serious thought around six months ago.

"It was a hard decision; very tough and emotional," Purdham said. "But, I just think in my heart that the time was right."

Seeing that people wanted to get involved helped make Purdham's decision to step down easier.

"Knowing that we had new interest, that was the time to leave — when you have new people come in and take hold of something," Purdham said.

New mayor-elect Mike Knight will be joined on the council by Jeremiah Knight and Jason Campbell.

"I think Mike will be fine," Purdham said. "I'm going to stay out of Mike's way. He knows where I'm at, and if he needs me, he knows how to call me. I love Mike and want to see him succeed."

The incoming mayor appreciates all of the hard work that Purdham gave to Stanley. When reached on Election Night, after realizing he had won, Knight gave his thoughts on Purdham's legacy.

"Doug is a great guy," Knight said. "He has given so much to Stanley, and I have a lot of respect for everything he has done."

While he is stepping out of the political ring, Purdham noted he will still be active in the town, continuing to work with the library board as well as the homecoming committee.

"Right now, I'm going to enjoy my grandson's senior year of basketball, and enjoy my grandchildren," Purdham said. "I'm going to be available. I love this community and I'm going to do anything I can to help it."

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