On Wednesday, Feb. 28, Summerfield Town Councilmember Jonathan Hamilton had a whole lot to say about some things that Summerfield Mayor Tim Sessoms has said in the past few weeks.

Sessoms, largely speaking to the Northwest Observer, has made comments blaming the Summerfield Town Council for many of the town’s challenges and made statements to the effect that the council’s recent decision not to renew the contract of Summerfield Town Manager Scott Whitaker was “inhumane.”

Hamilton who made the motion not to renew Whitaker’s contract said he decided this week that he’d had enough and he sent out a scathing press release in which he defended the actions of the new council and accused the mayor of ducking responsibility for problems that Hamilton said the mayor and his supporters had caused.

This was on the day before the Town Council was holding an extremely packed special called February 29 meeting to discuss the resignation of the town attorney, the situation with the town manager, and the town’s efforts to keep local farmer and developer David Couch from having the state de-annex nearly a thousand acres of land where Couch wants to build a residential and mixed used development.

Hamilton is one of the new members of the council, winning election late last year.  His comments were meant not just for the mayor but for the others in town who question the wisdom of letting Whitaker go.

“With only two months of being seated, I can say fresh perspectives and new expertise have been desperately needed,” his release states. “As this change occurs, there will be backlash from a small and loud crowd. These will be the folks who will probably feel very disempowered as their connections to the inside are broken, and I imagine there will be some desperate flailing about as they try to stay relevant.”

He continues, “Truth is, and I believe most folks know, the problems we are facing in Summerfield are not because of a newly elected board that was sworn in roughly 75 days ago. The challenges we face are a culmination of failures over the years and a refusal of those in charge to acknowledge fault and to adequately prepare.”

Then he calls out the mayor by name: “Mayor Tim Sessoms is now accusing the newly elected council as the reason Summerfield is facing de-annexation and potential lawsuits from the NAACP.  I would like to address these accusations head-on as it is becoming apparent that the mayor is trying to pass the buck wherever he can.”

The NCAAP is accusing the town of unfair zoning practices and not providing affordable housing.  The group contacted the Town of Summerfield in early 2022 regarding exclusionary zoning practices, and Hamilton stated he had recently been made aware that they might file a claim to preserve one potential cause of action from 2023.  Hamilton pointed out he had not been a council member during that time but added that Sessom’s was mayor.

“Concerning the issue of potential de-annexation, the Town of Summerfield was informed by David Couch’s attorneys in May of 2023 that the time for a compromise had already passed,” he stated. “Couch’s attorney later elaborated that the town’s elected leadership rejected compromise discussions in November of 2022.  History is not on Tim Sessom’s side, yet he is pointing the finger at people who were nowhere around when these problems originated.  Poor leaders place blame on others, and Tim Sessoms is no exception.”

The town is deeply divided regarding the amount and density of development, and many in town are trying to do what they can to keep the North Carolina General Assembly from supporting a move by Couch to have the property de-annexed from the town so he won’t have to appease the Summerfield Planning Board and Town Council

“Unlike Tim Sessoms,” Hamilton wrote in the release, “I will take responsibility and bear the burden of any problem that comes knocking on Summerfield’s door.  I will do everything I can to right Summerfield’s ship and get our house in order.  If the NAACP has a legitimate claim, I want to work with them.  If David Couch wants to work on a real compromise, I’m here. If Senator Berger is interested in a more meaningful conversation, I’ll have it.  For those looking to make trouble where there is none, I’m at the gate waiting.”