Sanford Mayor Chet Mann won’t seek a third term, he announced Monday.
“My family and my career also deserve my 100 percent. I need to be able to spend more time with my wife and sons, and I still have a thriving business with a group of awesome teammates that I can’t let down,” Mann said in a statement. “With regards to Sanford, I feel like I’ve given my all and left it all on the field. Now, the table is set and my hope is the people of Sanford will continue to elect the kind of public servants who can continue the blueprint we started.”
The announcement is a reversal for Mann, who said nearly a year ago that he would seek re-election in 2021. The race was postponed until this year due to issues with the U.S. Census and redistricting.
Mann said he was proud the Sanford City Council had accomplished the entirety of his Open for Business agenda since 2013, when he defeated former Mayor Cornelia Olive in the Democratic primary. He faced no opposition in the general election that year or when he was re-elected in 2017.
“I never thought we would complete the entire Open for Business agenda in just two terms,” he said. “But with the exception of the new multi-sports complex – which has been funded and approved with the help of the voters and the Lee County Board of Commissioners, just not yet completed – we’ve managed to do it all. So I feel confident in saying it’s time to let someone else bring their unique skills and energy to the job of mayor.”
Mann said the Democratic nominee for mayor would have his full support, but as of Monday, no one else had filed. The only other municipal candidate to announce a bid is Democrat Linda Rhodes, who filed in December for the at large seat on the council being vacated by Democrat Chas Post. Seats held by Democratic Councilmen Sam Gaskins (Ward 1) and J.D. Williams (Ward 3) are also on the ballot. Filing for the 2022 municipal election, set for July with a primary in May if necessary, ends at noon on Friday.
Read Mann’s full statement below:
The last eight and half years have been some of the most rewarding and fulfilling of my entire life. It has been nothing less than a great honor and a privilege to serve the city I was born and raised in as your mayor. So, it’s bittersweet and with a heavy heart that I have decided to not run for a third term.
The role is considered part time, but has become more and more a full-time occupation for me. I don’t begrudge it for that. I’ve started and finished every day for eight years thinking about what I can do to make Sanford better and have a positive impact on the most people possible. My problem is that I have to feel I’m giving 100 percent or I’m not being true to the task. Sanford has become such a center of activity that the requests for information about our town, the appearances, the meetings, the phone calls, and even the excitement have begun to consume me.
My family and my career also deserve my 100 percent. I need to be able to spend more time with my wife and sons, and I still have a thriving business with a group of awesome teammates that I can’t let down. I have my health and some good years left to bring in all the goals I have in those arenas. With regards to Sanford, I feel like I’ve given my all and left it all on the field. Now, the table is set and my hope is the people of Sanford will continue to elect the kind of public servants who can continue the blueprint we started.
I never thought we would complete the entire Open for Business agenda in just two terms. But with the exception of the new multi-sports complex – which has been funded and approved with the help of the voters and the Lee County Board of Commissioners, just not yet completed – we’ve managed to do it all. So I feel confident in saying it’s time to let someone else bring their unique skills and energy to the job of mayor. The Democratic nominee for mayor will have my full support.
I received a fine compliment from a Republican member of the North Carolina House of Representatives recently. He said of all the groups he works with and witnesses in action, our City Council stands out as a real team. Those words meant something to me, especially in this age of political divisiveness.
For me the job of mayor is very personal. It’s not something you can phone in or do by committee. I haven’t had lots of assistants or people that do everything for me. You feel the pain and suffering and the joy and excitement of other people all in the same day. Every day has brought a new challenge or opportunity, and turning those challenges into successes – bringing together a divided community, turning apathy into excitement – is what’s kept me going since 2013.
We inherited a city and county that had experienced six or seven consecutive years of flat to negative tax base erosion. Not one new company located or expanded here during that time. I’m proud to have been part of a team that turned that around one year at time. We had a billion dollar tax base expansion in the last two years alone, saw thousands of new and future jobs added, revitalized our downtowns and turned Sanford into the number one Micropolitan city in North Carolina and number five in the United States.
But you never feel like you’ve won. You always feel like you could have done better. You always feel like there’s something more to do. It is something I will miss.
People are flocking back to downtowns, learning to use technology, and remote working so they can live and flourish in smaller towns. Places like Sanford are now seen as special and having unique qualities that are very attractive. Our rise back to prominence was very intentional and well planned. It has taken years of work, public private partnerships, philanthropy, volunteerism, a lot of sweat, and a lot of tears. Our residents bought in and now Sanford is the talk of the Triangle area and beyond. We are on the radar.
I am forever grateful to have been elected to serve. I’m a bit tired, but in a good way. It’s time to move on and let others have a chance to contribute to our quality of life. I have no doubt the next eight years will be even more incredible for the people of Sanford. My terms will stay with me forever. If the council will allow me, I’ll continue to work hard and push for things that matter up until my last day in office. I’ll be on the outside helping anyone on the inside that might need me. I’ll never stop caring and advocating for Sanford. Thank you for this great honor.