Carthage mayor Lee McGraw speaks

Carthage mayor Lee McGraw speaks during the unveiling of a mural commemorating the Tyson & Jones Buggy Company on Sept. 18, 2014.

The Carthage Board of Commissioners on Monday accepted a letter of resignation from Lee McGraw, the town’s former mayor.

McGraw, who planned to seek a third term in office, bowed out of the mayoral race earlier this month after the Moore County Board of Elections found that his current address is not within the town’s limits.

A longtime resident of Carthage, McGraw decided to put his Bingham Street home on the market after he remarried last year. In a previous interview with The Pilot, McGraw said he did not realize his wife’s property on South McNeill Street was outside the municipal boundary lines when the couple moved in together.

“It never occurred to me that I wasn’t in Carthage,” McGraw said at the time. “Everything around us is Carthage, and we’re in the (extraterritorial jurisdiction). I absolutely figured we were in the town.”

Commissioner Milton Dowdy will serve as interim mayor until the winner of the municipal election is sworn in. Commissioners George Wilson and Jimmy Chalflinch are both vying for the position, along with resident Kevin Lewis.

“I wish only the best for the future of Carthage, and I have enjoyed serving almost eight years as mayor following two years serving as a commissioner,” McGraw wrote his letter to the board, which was read aloud by town clerk Dorothy Dutton. “I look forward to serving the town in other capacities in the future.”

Dowdy said McGraw’s “passion for the town will be missed.”

“Lee loved the town of Carthage,” Dowdy said. “And for the record, he did not do anything technically wrong that would cause him to be removed from office. It was just a matter of the wrong address.”

After voting to accept his resignation, the board appointed McGraw to a vacant seat on the town’s appearance committee. Dutton noted that McGraw listed several humorous qualifications on his application, in which he highlighted his flair for “picking up heavy stuff, spilling stuff (and) cleaning up spills.”

In an apparent show of solidarity, the motion to appoint McGraw was made by Wilson and seconded by Chalflinch.

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