For all their grousing about growth and issues du jour — sidewalks, streetlights, recycling — Pinehurst residents are fortunate; they live in a well-run municipality.
The village, though Moore County’s largest incorporated community with 17,000 people, is one of the safest in the nation. Its low tax rate is the envy of its peers. The village has a professional staff whose work wins national awards for everything from solid waste collection to firefighting to financial management.
Yes, Pinehurst is growing and grappling with all that entails. There are matters ahead of it that will require hard decisions by its five-member council. The village must: rewrite its zoning ordinance to align with a new land-use plan; determine a sustainable future for library services; plan and build a third fire station; and work well with others.
That last point is key. Pinehurst must possess a strong collaborative spirit within and outside its borders to chart progress for all of Moore County.
That last point weighs heavily in The Pilot’s endorsements for Pinehurst mayor and two new council members. Today, we focus on mayor, a race that features veteran Pinehurst leaders Claire Berggren and John Strickland. We endorse Claire Berggren.
Both Are Capable
Both Berggren and Strickland served single four-year terms on the council. Strickland ran for mayor in 2015, losing a close race to current Mayor Nancy Fiorillo, who is not seeking a third term. Berggren became the first person in village history to win a write-in candidacy in 2013. She lost a re-election bid in 2017.
Berggren has a background in business and marketing. She directed marketing for the county’s Convention and Visitors Bureau for several years. Strickland has a background in business and finance and had a 30-year career in banking and finance.
The two are well-versed on Pinehurst’s issues, its history, its position in Moore County, and its dominant role in the global golf industry. “Pinehurst” is known the world over, and both Berggren and Strickland aim to make that as strong a brand as it can be.
Both candidates have also served the village in various volunteer positions, ranging from Berggren’s service on the Given Tufts Archives board to Strickland’s service on the village Historic Preservation Commission.
Team Player, Not an Activist
The difference — and deciding factor — between these two comes down to one of style. Remember us talking a moment ago about “collaborative spirit”? Berggren stands out as the better mayoral candidate on that point. She doesn’t come into this race overconfident and hardened on positions. She worked well with others during her term on council, trusted the staff to execute, and was always open-minded to others’ opinions. “I am a team person,” she says.
Conversely, Strickland touts his third-generation residency almost as though being mayor is in his lineage. When he ran for mayor four years ago, we endorsed Fiorillo, saying of Strickland, “He strikes us as a bit too activist in his approach and less likely to achieve consensus. He also seems too inclined to get village government involved in small-gauge matters where it need not stray.”
That has not changed. Strickland says, “I think it’s quite clear I have an extraordinary set of credentials that qualify me to manage Pinehurst.” Pinehurst has a professional staff to manage the village. The mayor is the first among equals. Pinehurst does not need an activist mayor to micromanage the staff and direct the village. It needs a coach, someone who can build coalitions, achieve consensus and then let others take the credit.
Both Berggren and Strickland are capable candidates, but only one meets the above condition. Pinehurst is doing a lot of things right. It needs someone who will move the ball forward, not redraw the rule book. For these reasons, The Pilot endorses Claire Berggren for Pinehurst mayor.