110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Pierson Town Council still all-white, all male, with new council member
By Joe Crews
posted Jan 30, 2014 - 2:38:00pm
The Pierson Town Council maintained its all-white, all-male makeup Jan. 28 when it unanimously appointed former Council Member Tom Larrivee to finish out the term of longtime member Billy Carter, who died in December.
Larrivee will hold Seat 2. The four-year terms for Seats 1, 2 and 3 and the mayor end in November. An election will be held then to fill Seat 2 for a new term, as well as any of the other seats that draw more than one candidate.
Council Chairman Samuel Bennett said all the volunteers who applied for the Seat 2 job were qualified.
“But unfortunately, we can only pick one,” Bennett said.
Council Member Bobby Greenlund moved to appoint Larrivee.
The 77-year-old, who previously served on the Town Council 1982-85, was sworn in immediately and took part in the rest of the meeting.
Later, the council agreed a new town clerk will be paid $30,000 a year plus benefits, and decided to hold interviews for up to 18 applicants next Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 5 and 6.
The new clerk will replace Debbie Bass, who resigned after confessing she had taken $71,000 in town funds for personal use. She also said she repaid the money. Bass has been charged with the theft.
Town Attorney Noah McKinnon said the clerk interviews must be open to the public.
“It’s an open meeting, so everybody, including the applicants, can attend if they want,” McKinnon said. “You can’t exclude anyone, but you can schedule the interviews as you like.”
The council directed Peacock to try to set the interviews at 15-minute intervals, beginning at 5 p.m. both days.
Larrivee was one of six people whose names were submitted as possible interim council members to finish out Carter’s term. Two are women, and all six are white.
While the Town Council has been comprised primarily of white males since Pierson incorporated in 1926, two white females have served: Bonnie Jones, 1990-94 and 1998-2002; and Flora Lee Braddock, 1956-60. Only one black man has been mayor, Walter Thompkins, from 1984 to 1992.
Two Hispanic females ran for Seats 4 and 5 in 2010, but both lost to longtime incumbents Samuel Bennett and Herbert Bennett (who are not related). And, a Hispanic man unsuccessfully ran for a Town Council seat several years before that.
According to the 2010 Census, Pierson’s population is 1,736 (down from 2,596 a decade earlier). Hispanics or Latinos of any race comprised 54.1 percent of the population, with non-Hispanics or Latinos comprising 45.9 percent.
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