Neely appointed to replace Jeter as town commissioner
by Staff Writer
HUNTERSVILLE – Charles Jeter realized he needed a change of scenery in February.
Jeter, a town board member for seven years, had decided to make 2012 his last year on the board.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time on the board,” he said, “but I knew it was time to leave.”
The town board wasted no time in finding his replacement: Jeff Neely, who served for five years on the town planning board and ran for town commissioner in 2011.
Neely, 64, was a vice president with Belk Stores from 2000-05. He won the seat by a 5-1 margin in the Dec. 3 town board meeting.
Commissioner Danny Phillips voted against the appointment.
“I’m extremely pleased to have the opportunity to continue to serve the citizens of Huntersville,” Neely said. “There were a lot of qualified people out there (for the position) but certainly I was happy with the outcome.”
Jeter, a 39-year-old Republican, won the District 92 seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives in the Nov. 6 election. He said the decision to run for a seat in the House was not something he’d considered for a long time.
“I (initially) had no intent to run for the seat, but when the registration opened up, nobody had signed up,” he said. “It wasn’t a planned, strategic maneuver on my part. Somehow 10 months later, here we are.”
Jeter defeated Tom Davis by less than 500 votes in the May 8 primary, then won the seat over Democrat Robin Bradford by 992 votes, 18,730 to 17,738.
The win has brought mixed emotions. He’s excited about the new appointment, but he’ll miss the board members with whom he has spent a lot of time.
“You hope to get everything (with town government) done and make Huntersville better than when I (started) seven years ago,” Jeter said. “But all government is good with turnover. You get a fresh set of eyes.”
Jeter said he was pleased to have Neely succeed him on the town board. Neely will officially join in January.
“Jeff has served this town well on the planning board,” Jeter said. “The good thing about Huntersville is we’ve got a lot of good leaders (like Neely). He is a student of the town.”
Prior to Jeter’s resignation, Ken Lucas, in 2011, was the last town board member to resign. His seat remained vacant until the November 2011 election.
Jeter’s resignation won’t take effect until Dec. 31, but Mayor Jill Swain said his absence will be felt immediately.
He was given a standing ovation during the Dec. 3 meeting. Swain presented Jeter with a plaque recognizing his contributions to the town and a photo of town hall with well wishes from fellow board members.
“(Jeter) has evolved into someone who really looks at all sides of issues,” Swain said. “He became a central figure in trying to reach compromise.”
Commissioner Ron Julian said the town board was fortunate to have someone of Neely’s caliber replacing Jeter, who Julian called a close friend.
“Charlie did a great job working with the board for seven years. Jeff brings to the board a deep knowledge of every facet of Huntersville’s town operations,” Julian said. “He has the educational background and corporate experience, but he also knows everything about our town’s departments. I believe he’s a great (appointment) for town commissioner.”
Jeter’s next test, he said, is one he looks forward to.
“If you believe you’re good at being a legislator, the best way to help the people is to get in the House,” said Jeter, who will live in Huntersville, but have an apartment in Raleigh when the House is in session.
As for his strategy in his new job, Jeter said he’d be the same person he was for seven years on the town board.
“I’m not going to change my stripes,” he said. “I’m going to speak my mind and say my piece. I don’t intend to be anyone’s rubber stamp when it comes to voting.”