Mount Airy Mayor David Rowe has been hospitalized, according an announcement made at the start of a city Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday night.
“He has pneumonia,” Commissioner Jon Cawley explained later when a break was taken at the meeting, over which Cawley presided in Rowe’s absence due to the commissioner’s dual role as mayor pro tem.
His hospitalization meant Rowe missed a swearing-in ceremony during which he and commissioners Cawley and Steve Yokeley were to be sworn in to new terms in the wake of the Nov. 7 municipal election.
This marked the second time Rowe was unable to be administered the oath of office after a mayoral election victory. After a November 2015 election in which he was chosen to fill the unexpired term of a previous mayor, Rowe also was hospitalized in Winston-Salem due to a kidney ailment.
The mayor since has maintained a near-perfect record of attending city government meetings and public functions requiring the presence of the city’s chief executive.
And though he wasn’t physically around Thursday night, Rowe was still there in spirit, and in the form of a written statement he forwarded which was read aloud by Cawley:
“I apologize for my absence,” the mayor’s statement begins.
“As most of you know, I am in the hospital,” it adds, while making reference to Rowe’s appreciation for the opportunity to continue serving in city government and his desire to return to action.
“It is an honor to be re-elected mayor. With this fine group of commissioners, we will move forward with the things that we are working on to make an even better city for all our citizens,” the statement says. “I look forward to the opportunity to work again with this group of commissioners and getting things done.”
After missing Thursday night’s ceremony, steps will be taken for an alternate swearing-in procedure for Mayor Rowe as soon as possible, it was announced.
In 2015, he was administered the oath of office while hospitalized.
Meanwhile, in addition to being sworn in to a new four-year term along with Yokeley, Cawley was unanimously re-elected as mayor pro tem, or vice mayor, and will continue filling in for the mayor as needed.
Yokeley also was unanimously tapped by board members to continue serving as Mount Airy’s representative on the Piedmont Triad Regional Council, an organization made up of local government members in 12 area counties and about 65 municipalities. The group works together on common economic, transportation and other mutual interests.
In comments after being sworn in, Yokeley said one of his goals for Mount Airy is improving the municipal budget process, including starting it earlier. This includes a plan, subsequently approved unanimously by the commissioners, to hold tours of all city departments for elected officials and interested members of the public.
This will enable officials to get a firsthand view of personnel in those departments at work.
“I think we need to listen to the employees,” Yokeley said of the positive interaction he thinks will result.
He also wants the council and staff to do a better job of planning for future major expenditures and the accompanying revenues needed.
Cawley, in his post-swearing-in comments, said the council faces many “issues” going forward, but pledged to act in the best interest of constituents.
“Our commitment to you,” he told the audience, “is to try to provide the best environment for all the people.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.